Fulltime or Full-Time or Full Time?

When it comes to possessives in the English language, one of the most common questions is: should we use “fulltime”, “full-time”, or “full time”? This issue extends beyond just this phrase, so it’s important to understand the rules behind possessive usage.

Knowing when to use “fulltime,” “full-time,” or “full time” appropriately can be confusing. While these terms refer to ongoing, permanent work, each has specific rules for usage. Applying the proper format matters for clear written communication.

This article explains the key differences between “fulltime,” “full-time,” and “full time” in detail.

Fulltime (One Word)

Fulltime is typically used as an adjective to describe something that is permanent, lasting, or uninterrupted.

For example:

John works a fulltime job.

Mary is a fulltime student.

We offer fulltime customer support.

In these cases, fulltime is describing the noun that follows it (job, student, support). It indicates that these things are done on a continuous, constant basis.

Full Time (Two Words)

“Full time” is written as two separate words without a hyphen and used as a noun phrase. It can be used both as an adjective and an adverb. As an adjective, it describes the nature of a commitment or position (e.g., full-time job), and as an adverb, it modifies a verb to describe how someone works (e.g., works full time).

Example (Adjective): “He secured a full-time job after graduation.”

Example (Adverb): “She works full time to support her family.”

In following sentences, full time acts as a noun on its own describing a complete, continuous work schedule.

Jane is applying for full time jobs.

Many employees enjoy the perks of full time work.

He transitioned from part time to full time this year.

Full-Time (Hyphenated)

Full-time is hyphenated and used as an adjective describing a noun.

For example:

Jane wants to work full-time after graduation.

We’re hiring for a full-time position.

He has a full-time job with benefits.

Here, full-time is hyphenated and comes before a noun to classify or quantify it. It indicates the noun is something done on a permanent, professional basis.

Use of Hyphen According to Writing Styles

The decision to use “full-time” with a hyphen or “full time” without a hyphen can be influenced by the specific style guide or writing conventions being followed. Here are general guidelines based on common style preferences:

AP (Associated Press) Style

AP Style is commonly used for news, journalism, and media writing.

For “full time” as a noun phrase, AP Style does not use a hyphen.


  • Jane works full time while completing her degree.
  • John asked his boss to transition from part time to full time.
  • Working full time allows Mary to pay her bills more easily.
  • The full time employees receive better health benefits.
  • She is searching for a full time job in her field.

For “full-time” as a compound adjective, AP Style uses a hyphen.


  • Jane accepted a full-time position at the firm.
  • The ad stated the company was hiring for a full-time job.
  • He desires a full-time job with vacation time and benefits.
  • She works as a full-time barista to pay for college.
  • After graduation, he searched for a full-time teaching role.

For “fulltime” as an adjective, AP Style does not use a hyphen.


  • Jane works fulltime during her summer break from university.
  • The receptionist works fulltime to handle daytime calls.
  • The resort employs fulltime lifeguards during peak season.
  • He runs a fulltime business specializing in web design services.
  • Fulltime employees work 40+ hours per week at the company.

Chicago Manual of Style

Chicago Style is commonly used in book publishing and academic writing.

For “full time” as a noun phrase, Chicago Style does not use a hyphen:

  • Mary transitioned from part time to full time work this year.
  • Working full time allows John to afford an apartment downtown.
  • The demands of full time employment have been an adjustment.
  • She feels more financially stable with a full time job.
  • Full time workers accrue paid vacation days.

For “full-time” as a compound adjective, Chicago Style uses a hyphen:

  • After graduating, he searched for a full-time engineering position.
  • Jane was offered a full-time job with benefits.
  • The professor works full-time while conducting research.
  • It is a fast-paced, full-time office job.
  • Full-time staff enjoy the 401k retirement plan.

For “fulltime” as an adjective, Chicago Style does not use a hyphen:

  • Jane works fulltime over her summer break.
  • We hire fulltime employees to provide customer service.
  • He runs a fulltime retail business in the city’s downtown.
  • The spa employs fulltime massage therapists for appointments.
  • Fulltime workers must commit 40+ hours per week.


The key rules are:

  • Fulltime (one word) is an adjective describing a noun.
  • Full-time (hyphenated) is an adjective preceding and classifying a noun.
  • Full time (two words) is a noun phrase referring to permanent work.
  • Apply the same formats to possessives like fulltime’sfull-time’s, and full time’s.
  • Look at the surrounding context to determine the right usage.

So in summary, examine how the phrase is used in the sentence to decide between fulltime, full-time, or full time for clear, accurate writing. Following these standards will help ensure you choose the right format.

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