Would the term in-cabin be hyphenated or not? As in, the dogs must ride in-cabin on the airplane.

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    I say yes, but there are at least two other questions that address this english.stackexchange.com/questions/12494/… , which is a duplicate question itself.
    – Zebrafish
    Apr 28, 2018 at 6:04
  • I can't find a dictionary to validate this choice, but airlines (who one might well consider authoritative enough here) seem to hyphenate in-cabin used attributively but not predicatively. Which follows the usual rule of thumb. Apr 28, 2018 at 6:31
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    @EdwinAshworth Could you provide a link to an example of non-hyphenated predicative usage? I know such examples must exist and would like to include them in my answer. But when I looked for them in the course of writing my answer, I was having trouble locating one. Apr 28, 2018 at 14:28
  • This is anecdotal but looks to be the writings of a competent Anglophone. Of course, headlinese would look the same.Another example. / I'd say that neither form is unacceptable; also, 'in[-]cabin' is a compound adverb / adverbial after 'carried' say. Apr 28, 2018 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


If it is used like an adjective would be, then it should definitely be hyphenated. If used like an adverb would be, then either hyphenated or non-hyphenated is probably fine, though my impression is that the hyphenated use might be more common.

As Edwin Ashworth pointed out, dictionaries do not record in-cabin as a compound word, but there are plenty of attested examples where it is used like one. I will provide some below.

The key question is whether there is any alternative to interpreting in-cabin/in cabin as a compound word. The obvious one (which is really the only one) is that it might be better read as a prepositional phrase (PP). If it is indeed better read as a PP, then it shouldn't be hyphenated. But if there is no possibility to read it as a PP, then it definitely should be. And if it can be read as either, then either hyphenated or not hyphenated is fine.

When used like an adjective would be

Normally, PPs cannot function as pre-head modifiers in noun phrases (NPs), and so we must consider in-cabin as a compound adjective in such cases:

Take the amp on the plane as i͟n͟-͟c͟a͟b͟i͟n͟ luggage. (source)
aviation laws limiting the quantity of liquids permitted in i͟n͟-͟c͟a͟b͟i͟n͟ luggage. (source)

In the above, in-cabin is used attributively, but there are even instances where it is used as a predicative complement:

For a sound experience that is i͟n͟-͟c͟a͟b͟i͟n͟ but out-of-this-world. (source)
There are three ways for pets to travel by air. The first is i͟n͟-͟c͟a͟b͟i͟n͟ with the passenger as carry-on. (source)

When used like an adverb would be

PPs routinely function as adverbials: put it i͟n͟ ͟t͟h͟e͟ ͟c͟a͟r͟, traveled b͟y͟ ͟t͟r͟a͟i͟n͟, located o͟n͟ ͟y͟o͟u͟r͟ ͟l͟e͟f͟t͟. The only issue with in cabin is that cabin is a count noun in the singular, so we would normally expect a determiner in front of it, like this:

Pets up to approximately 5 kg are allowed to travel i͟n͟ ͟t͟h͟e͟ ͟c͟a͟b͟i͟n͟. (source)

However, there is precedent for dropping the determiner in PPs. For example, we say that we travel b͟y͟ ͟b͟u͟s͟, go t͟o͟ ͟c͟h͟u͟r͟c͟h͟, appear o͟n͟ ͟t͟e͟l͟e͟v͟i͟s͟i͟o͟n͟, talk b͟y͟ ͟t͟e͟l͟e͟p͟h͟o͟n͟e͟, etc. What is common to all these cases is that the noun doesn't refer to a particular object but to some generalized notion, a type: a type of transport, institution, media, and communication, respectively.

So perhaps we can say travel in cabin and mean a type of travel: one where e.g. a dog rides in the cabin as opposed to in the storage area.

There are attested examples of such usage:

He wished to ride i͟n͟ ͟c͟a͟b͟i͟n͟. (source)

On the other hand, there is also precedent for combinations preposition+noun becoming compound adverbs:

I'll do my best to stay o͟n͟-͟t͟o͟p͟i͟c͟. (source)
what a candidate does o͟f͟f͟-͟s͟t͟a͟g͟e͟ (source)

(Note however that there is also a PP version of the latter: occurring, as it does, o͟f͟f͟ ͟s͟t͟a͟g͟e͟ (source). But the OED does record offstage as an adverb, where some of the examples of such usage that it provides use the hyphenated form off-stage. Confusingly, however, some of its examples leave it as two non-hyphenated words. With all due deference to the authority of the OED, I would suggest these cases have been mischaracterized and that off stage is a PP rather than a single compund adverb there.)

And indeed, many sources do use in-cabin as a compound adverb:

Korean Air allows small pets to travel i͟n͟-͟c͟a͟b͟i͟n͟ for $200 a piece. (source)
Dogs who can comfortably fit under the seat are permitted to ride i͟n͟-͟c͟a͟b͟i͟n͟. (source)
Your furry friend is too large to travel i͟n͟-͟c͟a͟b͟i͟n͟. (source)
For animals that are not traveling i͟n͟-͟c͟a͟b͟i͟n͟, the ARK strongly recommends... (source)

Therefore, it seems that when in-cabin/in cabin is used like an adverb would be, both the hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions are OK.

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    “Normally, PPs cannot function as pre-head modifiers in noun phrases (NPs)” — Can they not? I can think of plenty of PPs that are quite happy to function as NP modifiers (normally hyphenated): an out-of-body experience, an on-the-spot solution, by-the-hour rentals, etc. It’s not particularly common for PPs to modify in this way, but it doesn’t seem right to state that PPs normally cannot act as such. The impediment seems more semantic than syntactic to me. (Nonetheless, +1. It’s a good, authoritative answer, and I have no idea why anyone downvoted it.) Apr 28, 2018 at 19:04
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    @JanusBahsJacquet: the second part of that sentence explains why your proposed counterexamples aren't, according to linguisticturn's analysis: "so we must consider in-cabin as a compound adjective". I assume linguisticturn would say that out-of-body, on-the-spot, and by-the-hour are likewise "compound adjectives" in the phrases that you mention.
    – herisson
    Apr 28, 2018 at 19:45
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    @sumelic That’s rather circular logic, though. PPs cannot be modifiers, so when we see PPs that act as modifiers, they must be compound adjectives; therefore, there are no PP modifiers. I have no problem calling them compound adjectives as such, but the statement that PPs cannot act as modifiers is at least unsubstantiated in this answer. Apr 28, 2018 at 19:53
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    @JanusBahsJacquet: Yes, this answer doesn't seem to explain why these are considered to be "compound adjectives". I'd be interested in seeing more on that. I think "a very on-the-spot solution" feels acceptable. I'm not sure if it is impossible for "very" to modify PPs, though (a related question doesn't seem to give a clear answer; I think I remember seeing some other discussion of this somewhere in relation to a Safire article, but I forget where).
    – herisson
    Apr 28, 2018 at 19:58
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    @sumelic A question for both of you: I really disagree that this question is a duplicate, simply because one of the issues is the grammatical status of the word group. First of all, do you agree? And if you do, what would be the best way to challenge that marking? Apr 29, 2018 at 14:43

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