The hyphenated term all-time is a compound adjective that you use to describe nouns. E.g., “She was the all-time best swimmer in her category.” Also, all time as two words is correct, but it does not modify a noun. E.g., “She was the greatest swimmer of all time.”
There are two correct spelling versions of the term all time. One with a hyphen, an adjective, and the other without a hyphen, where the word time is a noun.
Here are two sentences that show the difference between the two sentence structures:
- I will stay with you for all time.
- She was my all-time favorite actress.
Furthermore, you should use this grammar rule if the text you are writing is in AP Style.
Do you want to see some more examples? Then continue reading the page to learn more about using the term all-time in your writing to ensure that you do not make a mistake when using it.
The two-word term all time is correct and refers to the entirety of time, either in the past, present or future. The other words that you add before it can change the meaning somewhat.
The following examples show this difference:
- Last year was the hottest of all time.
- This is the fastest car of all time.
- This rock will stand here for all time.
Although all three use all time, the first refers to since climate records began. The second refers to the period since cars were invented. While the third refers to a potentially infinite future.
Furthermore, in all of the examples, the thing all time refers to comes before the sentence, which is why there is no hyphen.
The hyphenated version of the term, all-time, is a correct compound word that always comes right before a noun.
As shown in these examples:
- They reached an all-time high for points scored in a basketball game.
- He set an all-time low on the entrance exam with a grade of 4%.
Please be aware that if the thing you are mentioning does not come straight after all-time then you should remove the hyphen.
The word alltime as one word without a hyphen is incorrect, and you should never write the term in this way.
The following two examples show the correct way of writing alltime.
The first shows that you should use a hyphen when the noun is directly afterward.
- Correct: I hit an all-time low when I lost my job.
- Incorrect: I hit an alltime low when I lost my job.
While the second shows that when the noun comes before the term, you should not use a hyphen.
- Correct: Losing my job was the lowest moment of all time.
- Incorrect: Losing my job was the lowest moment of all time.