Real Life or Real-Life?

Real life without a hyphen is a noun and refers to what happens in actual life as opposed to fictional life. E.g., “He is not a doctor in real life, just on screen.” Also, real-life with a hyphen is an adjective that describes a noun. E.g., “He has never dealt with real-life problems.”

The term real life without a hyphen is a noun. The meaning of it is related to the difference between the real world and fictional worlds.

You can also use it to differentiate between two worlds, such as your job and personal life.

In this context, you do not need a hyphen.

  • In real life, I am not this quiet. At work, though, I prefer to keep my head down.

Furthermore, the term real-world with a hyphen is also a correct spelling and is used as a compound adjective. Because both words modify the noun, you need to join them with a hyphen in these cases.

  • He doesn’t have any real-life experience dealing with customers.

In addition, for AP Style, you should follow the above grammar rule concerning the hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions of real life.

Moreover, the rules are the same in the UK and the US.

You have learned the basics of how to use the term real-life. However, you should continue reading the rest of the page to learn more about each term and how to use them in your writing.

Real Life

Real life written as two words without a hyphen, is a noun that refers to the real world rather than a fictional or structured environment.

We have shown this context in the example sentences below:

  • Using English in real life is very different from using it in a language classroom.
  • In video games, I get to do things I can’t do in real life.
  • The landscapes in the movie looked so genuine, it was hard to distinguish between the cinematic visuals and real life.
  • While superheroes don’t exist in real life, they inspire many to act heroically.
  • The book’s portrayal of medieval society is very close to what it was in real life.
  • Virtual reality technology is now so advanced, it’s almost like stepping into real life.

Furthermore, there are other ways in which you can use the term real life without a hyphen, but the meaning changes.

In the following examples, the words real and life are separate, and the word real becomes the only adjective in the sentence.

  • You are a real life-saver for picking me up.
  • I have lived a real life rather than a fake one since I divorced my ex-wife.

Now, let’s have a closer look at the term real-life with a hyphen!


The one-word term real-life with a hyphen is a compound word that you use to modify nouns in a sentence.

In this context, a noun always follows the term real-life, as shown in the examples below.

In the first sentence, real-life is comparing an actual aircraft landing to a simulator landing.

  • He has never performed a real-life landing, although he is good in a simulator.

In this example, the sentence compares events that happened in the real world with fictional events.

  • The film is based on real-life events and diaries from the period.

Here are some more example sentences where real-life should have a hyphen:

  • The training program is designed to emulate real-life scenarios to better prepare employees.
  • The novel draws inspiration from real-life incidents the author witnessed during her travels.
  • It’s challenging to find a video game that perfectly replicates real-life physics.
  • Many students find it difficult to apply their theoretical knowledge to real-life problems.
  • I was amazed to meet a real-life astronaut at the science conference.
  • The museum showcases real-life artifacts from ancient civilizations.
  • The workshop is intended to help students bridge the gap between theoretical learning and real-life applications.
  • His tales of adventure sound like the plot of a movie, but they are his real-life experiences.

Lastly, we’ll discuss if reallife as one word is ever correct to use.


The term reallife as one word with no space and no hyphen is an incorrect spelling for the adjective and noun forms.

As an adjective, real-life needs a hyphen and describes nouns in a sentence.

  • Correct: He couldn’t give a real-life example of when he had helped someone else. (adjective)
  • Incorrect: He couldn’t give a reallife example of when he had helped someone else. (adjective)
  • Correct: The workshop provided real-life case studies for students to analyze. (adjective)
  • Incorrect: The workshop provided reallife case studies for students to analyze. (adjective)

While as a noun, you write real life without a hyphen but with a space.

  • Correct: In real life, he is not the hero he is in the movies. (noun)
  • Incorrect: In reallife, he is not the hero he is in the movies. (noun)
  • Correct: The characters in the show seem over the top, but that’s how they act in real life. (noun)
  • Incorrect: The characters in the show seem over the top, but that’s how they act in reallife. (noun)

So reallife is never a correct variation to use. Hopefully, our examples above have made it clear when you should use real-life and real life!