Face to Face or Face-to-Face?

The compound word face-to-face is the correct adjective form. E.g., “We have a face-to-face meeting tomorrow.” Furthermore, the non-hyphenated form, face to face, is the adverb form that describes a verb. E.g., “I take my English classes face to face.”

The term face to face can be tricky because it can be several different word forms. However, there are only two correct spelling versions for the various forms.

The Cambridge Dictionary lists face to face as the noun and adverb forms.

Here are how those two forms look in context:

  • I want to have a face to face with you asap. (noun)
  • He doesn’t want to come face to face with his rival. (adverb)

In addition, the hyphenated form face-to-face is listed in the dictionary as the adjective form, which always comes directly before a noun.

  • Face-to-face learning is more effective than online classes. (adjective)

However, one exception to this rule is when the thing you describe comes before the term face-to-face. In these cases, you need to remove the hyphens.

  • The meeting was face to face.

Furthermore, when writing a text in AP Style, you should follow the above rule concerning the different word forms.

Also, the rules are the same in both the UK and the US. So, no matter where in the world you are based, you can follow the same rules. Easy, right?

Please continue to read the rest of the page so you can learn more about the different forms of face to face and how you can use them correctly. 

We’ll help you understand it all by providing some useful example sentences.

Face to Face

You can use the three-word term face to face in three different situations. The two principal uses for this form are as an adverb or as a noun.

The noun form refers to a meeting or chat that will take place in person. In this form, face to face refers to the actual meeting itself.

Here are some examples:

  • I am scheduling a face to face with all employees.
  • After weeks of emailing, we finally arranged a face to face.
  • There’s no replacement for a genuine face to face when solving conflicts.
  • Their team suggested a face to face to finalize the contract.

Furthermore, you can use face to face as an adverb, which means that it describes the nature of a verb. In this example, face to face describes the verb conducting.

Take a look at these examples:

  • We will be conducting the interviews face to face.

Also, here are some additional examples of the adverb context:

  • When I met him face to face, he was completely different from his online persona.
  • The two leaders met face to face to sign the treaty.
  • She wishes to discuss the issue face to face rather than over the phone.

Finally, the third use for face to face is as an adjective that comes after the noun it describes. In this example, face to face describes the noun interview.

  • I wouldn’t say I like that my interview wasn’t face to face.

Here are some more examples where face to face functions as an adjective:

  • I prefer a meeting that’s face to face.
  • The feedback was more impactful in a setting that was face to face.
  • It’s unfortunate that our chat wasn’t face to face.
  • Communication that’s face to face often leads to better understanding.


The term face-to-face as a compound word is an adjective that you place directly before the noun it modifies.

Here are some examples of how face-to-face should be used in a sentence:

  • I am attending a face-to-face meeting with the company directors.
  • We scheduled a face-to-face consultation with the designer.
  • I’m looking forward to our face-to-face discussion tomorrow.
  • The therapist recommended face-to-face therapy sessions.
  • The conference will be held in a face-to-face format this year.
  • The CEO prefers face-to-face briefings.
  • Many students prefer face-to-face classes over online ones.
  • The team opted for a face-to-face brainstorming session to generate new ideas.

Notice how the noun comes directly after face-to-face in all of the example sentences.

You should only hyphenate face-to-face when the structure is the same as the sentence above.

In comparison, you should remove the hyphens when face-to-face is a noun, adverb, or adjective that comes after the noun.

That’s all you need to know! Hopefully, you now feel confident using face to face and face-to-face in your writing.

If you ever have any doubts, feel free to come back and review our helpful example sentences.