To me, these feel correct:

  • They were replaced in-place.
  • The dancers twirl in-place.
  • Protections are in place.
  • It shows squares in place of symbols.

But trying to look for information on its hyphenation, I only find examples of the word combination without a hyphen. (It's hard to find because most search engines, including Stackexchange's, ignores the hyphen and matches cases with a space.)

Are there cases where the hyphenated form is not correct (such as the unhyphenated examples above, where I felt a hyphen would be wrong)? Must some cases be hyphenated, or is it always correct (if potentially less clear?) to write it without hyphen?

  • 1
    The concept you're looking for is called a phrasal adjective (or more rarely other parts of speech). – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Feb 5 '20 at 6:20

Quick answer for general use:

hyphenation is for adjectives, not adverbs:

  • They sheltered in place. [no hyphen]
  • The dancers twirl in place. [no hyphen]

  • The in-place sheltering command was given at dawn. [adjective]

  • The boilers were replaced on site.

  • On-site replacement of boilers is offered by the company. [adjective]
  • 2
    Your non-hyphenated cases are prepositional phrases. – Barmar Feb 5 '20 at 12:42
  • @Barmar They sheltered in place. How did they shelter? How did they twirl. How did they repair the boilers? Also. – Lambie Feb 5 '20 at 20:55
  • 1
    @Barmar Prepositional phrases can function as adverbs. More specifically, they are called adverbial phrases. – trlkly Feb 5 '20 at 21:25

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