Well Deserved or Well-Deserved?

Well-deserved as one word with a hyphen is the compound adjective form that you use to describe a noun. E.g., “They achieved a well-deserved win.” Furthermore, well deserved as two words is a regular adjective, and no noun appears directly after it. E.g., “His promotion was well deserved.”

Both well-deserved and well deserved are correct spelling versions, and they are both adjectives. However, the grammar rule for each is slightly different.

The hyphenated version of well-deserved is a compound word you must put directly before a noun.

In contrast, the non-hyphenated version of well deserved comes after the noun it describes and therefore does not need a hyphen.

Both versions of the spelling appear in dictionaries, and the rules of AP Style state the same regarding using the hyphen.

Now you have learned the basics concerning the term well deserved, please keep reading to learn more about using each version.

Well Deserved

The term well deserved as two words is an adjective you can use to describe a noun in a sentence.

The two spelling versions, well deserved and well-deserved, can describe the same thing. However, when you do not use a hyphen, the item you are describing always comes before the term well deserved.

Have a look at these examples and notice how the noun appears before the word well deserved:

  • This year’s vacation will be well deserved.
  • After months of working late nights and weekends, this break is well deserved.
  • With all the stress you’ve been under, a day at the spa is well deserved.
  • The team’s day off is well deserved after successfully completing the project ahead of schedule.
  • Your good grades reflect your hard work, so this celebration is well deserved.

For example, in the above sentence, we describe the vacation, which appears before well deserved, so there is no hyphen.


When you write well-deserved as one word with a hyphen, it is a compound adjective that always comes before the noun it describes.

You can use it to describe that something is merited or deserved because of something else. People usually use the term to refer to something good, but it can also refer to punishments and similar adverse events.

In the examples below, we’ve shown you how you can use well-deserved to describe the noun it appears in front of:

  • You should have a well-deserved rest. You have been working too much.
  • She got a well-deserved promotion after all the hard work she had done.
  • After years of hard work and dedication, Emily finally received a well-deserved promotion at her job.
  • The team celebrated their championship victory with a sense of well-deserved pride, knowing they had given it their all.

In contrast, you should remove the hyphen when the thing it describes comes before well-deserved.

  • Sunday’s rest was well deserved after Saturday night.


The term welldeserved as one word with no hyphen is wrong, and you should not use it in your writing.

There are two ways that you can write the term correctly, and the version you choose depends on where the noun appears in the sentence.

When the noun appears after the word, you should use well-deserved with a hyphen.

Here are some examples of when the noun appears after well-deserved.

  • Correct: We had a well-deserved drink after running the marathon.
  • Incorrect: We had a welldeserved drink after running the marathon.
  • Correct: She took a well-deserved vacation after completing her big project at work.
  • Incorrect: She took a welldeserved vacation after completing her big project at work.

When the noun comes before the word, you should use well deserved without a hyphen.

Have a look at these examples to see what we mean:

  • Correct: The drink at the end of the marathon was well deserved.
  • Incorrect: The drink at the end of the marathon was welldeserved.
  • Correct: The standing ovation for the actor was well deserved after his captivating performance.
  • Incorrect: The standing ovation for the actor was welldeserved after his captivating performance.

Example Sentences

In case you want to see more examples of how to use well deserved and well-deserved, we’ve gathered some for you here.

  • After finishing your marathon, a hearty meal and a good night’s sleep will be well deserved.
  • After helping to organize the community fundraiser, taking a weekend to relax is well deserved.
  • You’ve been taking care of everyone else, so some time for self-care is well deserved.
  • Your good grades this semester are well deserved, considering the hours you’ve put into studying.
  • For their tireless efforts in the community, the volunteers received well-deserved praise and recognition.
  • The well-deserved acclaim for her groundbreaking research made her a sought-after speaker in the field.
  • A well-deserved moment of peace awaits you after this busy week.
  • After years of research and dedication, the scientist received a well-deserved Nobel Prize in Physics.

Hopefully, you no longer have any doubts about how to use well-deserved and well deserved. Remember that it is never correct to use the word as one word.