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Sometimes I see sentences with "state of the art" and others with "state-of-the-art".

What is the difference if it has a hyphen?

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The difference is that without hyphens, it's a noun, and with hyphens, it's an adjective. So you might say that a given piece of technology "represents the state of the art in its field," or you could refer to it as "state-of-the-art technology."

"state of the art" is a noun: it refers to the actual state of progress in a given field.

The most recent stage in the development of a product, incorporating the newest technology, ideas, and features

the state of the art in 3D printing

"state-of-the-art" is a compound adjective: it refers to something (often a product or piece of technology) that uses the latest technology in a given field.

Belonging or relating to the most recent stage of technological development; having or using the latest techniques or equipment.

our scientists work in state-of-the-art facilities

Quoted definitions and example sentences are from Oxford Dictionaries (via Lexico)

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  • I'd appreciate any feedback on how this answer could be improved.
    – Ryan M
    Jan 21 '21 at 17:15
  • They probably downvoted your answer because it provides no dictionary for your claim of the use of the phrase as a noun and as an adjective. Have you made up these examples yourself or have you found them somewhere? They are a bit awkward and do not help to explain your point very much. Try simpler sentences.
    – fev
    Jan 21 '21 at 19:26
  • @fev Thank you very much for your input; it was quite helpful in seeing the issues.
    – Ryan M
    Jan 22 '21 at 20:46

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