“Side by side” or “Side-by-side”? (Hyphenation Rules & Best Practice)

Are we supposed to say side by side or side-by-side? How do hyphens work when we look at them in English? It’s not as confusing as you might think, and we’ve got the answers to the side by side hyphen rule that you’re looking for!

Side By Side Or Side-By-Side – Hyphenated Or Not?

You should hyphenate “side-by-side” when you’re using it as an adjective to modify an object or noun in a sentence. You should use “side by side” unhyphenated when you’re using it as a phrase noun, and it isn’t modifying any objects in the sentence. Usually, “side-by-side” comes right before a noun, while “side by side” comes at the end of a clause.

Examples Of When To Use “Side By Side”

Covering the side by side vs side-by-side argument doesn’t need to be hard. Now that we’ve answered the question of is side by side hyphenated, it’s time to look at when it isn’t hyphenated. To be clear, the hyphenated variation has become much more popular over recent years, and the unhyphenated version is slowly phasing out. However, we should still use it if we want to be grammatically correct.

  • They stood side by side.
  • We were side by side all day.
  • You are side by side.
  • The dogs are side by side.
  • The houses stand side by side.

Examples Of When To Use “Side-By-Side”

We’ll now cover the more common variation of the spelling with the hyphens included. If we follow the AP Style guide (which we’ll get to in a little bit), then we’ll see when to use “side-by-side.” Basically, we’re only using it when we need to modify a noun in the sentence, so pay close attention to the structure of these examples, and you’ll notice what we mean.

  • The side-by-side houses are part of the aesthetic.
  • The side-by-side pupils never leave each other.
  • They’re a side-by-side couple that never breaks apart.
  • Can we get a side-by-side photo?
  • Let’s make a side-by-side comparison.

Is Side By Side Hyphenated AP Style?

AP style rules tell us that hyphens are used as links for closely related words. They help the reader better understand what is being written and are reserved strictly for when we need to modify a noun. Hyphenated words are used as a singular adjective and can combine two or more words to make one singular word in a sentence. If no noun is present to modify, AP style says that all words should be kept unhyphenated.

Should I Capitalize “By Side” In The Word “Side-By-Side”?

What happens when we get to titles, though? Should we capitalize every part of the word “side-by-side” even though it’s now become one word with the hyphenation rules in place? The answer is a difficult one because it depends on the style you use. There are three main styles of titles used in writing.

The first style capitalizes only the first word and proper nouns. Any other words in the title are uncapitalized, meaning that all of “side-by-side” is left in lower-case (unless it’s the first word, then only the first “side” is capitalized). The second style capitalizes all words except short conjunctions and articles, meaning that “side” is capitalized, but “by-side” is not. The last style capitalizes all words in a title, meaning that all three parts of the hyphen are capitalized.

Alternatives To “Side By Side”

Covering the hyphenation rule is one thing, but it’s still hard to grasp when you should use hyphens for some people. If you’re one of those people, don’t fear! We’ve got the solution. Alternative words and phrases are going to help you out a lot here.

  • Abreast
  • Level
  • Beside each other
  • Together
  • Alongside each other

Quiz – Side By Side Or Side-By-Side?

Let’s finish with a quiz to see what you’ve learned. If you’ve paid attention to the AP style rules for hyphenation, you should get through this one easily!

  1. We stood (A. side by side / B. side-by-side).
  2. They took a (A. side by side / B. side-by-side) photograph.
  3. The schools stand (A. side by side / B. side-by-side).
  4. You are (A. side by side / B. side-by-side).
  5. Look! (A. side by side / B. side-by-side) pizza places!

Quiz Answers

  1. A
  2. B
  3. A
  4. A
  5. B