I have seen both forms, so I am confused. Which of the following is the most appropriate way to write the phrase?

"one of a kind"



  • The second link actually clearly states that it's an adjective. See also: To hyphenate or not. – RegDwigнt Mar 28 '12 at 18:12
  • 1
    Reg, I simply don't agree with your closing perfectly legitimate questions. There are people who may not even have the comprehension skills to understand grammatical terms. Are we shutting these people out of this forum. Where/whom would they turn to? – Blessed Geek Mar 29 '12 at 1:39

I see no justification for the hyphens, except in the unlikely circumstance of the phrase being used adjectivally.

  • I agree - "one of a kind" is a noun phrase; "one-of-a-kind" is an adjective. – user16269 Mar 28 '12 at 8:17
  • 6
    Adjectival usage isn't exactly "unlikely" – FumbleFingers Mar 28 '12 at 13:33


Is the expression used as a single adjective before a noun? If so, use hyphens (see example 1). For example: "He is a one-of-a-kind man."

Is the expression used as a predicate adjective after the verb to describe a noun before the verb? If so, don't use hyphens (see example 2). For example: "That man is one of a kind."


The hyphens' function is to join two or more words to show that they belong to each other.

See this example in Oxford Dictionary for Advanced Learners "a non-native speaker of a language is one who has not spoken it from the time they first learnt to talk", where non-native is an adjective.

To better fix the use of hypens for phrases being used adjectivally, read the sentence below:

A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats, a base proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundrea-pound, filthy-worsted stocking knawe; a lily-livered, actiontaking, whoreson glass-gazing super serviceable finical rogue, one-trunk-inheriting slave.
— Sheakspeare

Here, certainly Sheakspeare would been able adding one-of-a-kind (followed to other word ... !).

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.