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Is it feasible to interpret 'in person' as 'in flesh' and 'in-person' as 'offline'?

Merriam Webster:

In person means "in one's bodily presence" as in 'He met his boss in person a few weeks after the phone interview.' In-person describes something done by (or with) a person who is physically present as in 'She conducted several in-person interviews for the job.'

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    Please take the trouble to type out the words in the image (images are neither accessible nor searchable) and correctly cite it. What do you mean by "offline"? Does the phrase "a person who is physically present" answer this question? If it doesn't, why doesn't it?
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 30 at 9:09

2 Answers 2

5

You ask:

Is it feasible to interpret 'in person' as 'in flesh' and 'in-person' as 'offline'?

No, the distinction is in their 'part of speech', not so much in their underlying meanings.

In person is a prepositional phrase (usually modifying verbs) and in-person is an adjective (usually modifying nouns).

For example:

  • You go there in person. ("in person" tells you something about the verb "go")
  • It is an in-person meeting. ("in-person" tells you something about the noun "meeting")
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That explanation is bad and confusing.

The difference is simply the same as this:

  1. She works part time.
  2. She is a part-time worker.

In 2, part-time is an adjective and so requires a hyphen. There's no difference in meaning between part time and part-time.

Here similarly, there's no difference in meaning between in person and in-person.

  1. He met his boss in person.
  2. He had an in-person meeting with his boss.

And,

  1. She conducted several interviews in person.
  2. She conducted several in-person interviews.

See e.g. here (Principle 2).

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