The only time “decision maker” will need a hyphen is when you use it as an adjective. If you’re going to use it as a noun phrase or a title of status, then you do not use the hyphen. This means if you are uncertain in any given sentence, you will have to check how you’re using it in the grammatical sense.
It’s not a hard thing to commit to memory. But you must have a solid understanding of what nouns versus adjectives are. However, it’s not as hard and fast as all that. You do have some leeway for personal preference too.
“Decision-Maker” as an Adjective
When you want to describe a person or object as the one who decides on any given topic, “decision maker” will require a hyphen between the words: decision-maker. Contemplate the samples below:
The decision-maker app is easy to install on your wireless device.
Decision-maker personalities in people can sometimes be incredibly bossy.
They elected Sally to be the decision-maker contact person.
“Decision Maker” as a Noun Phrase or Title
When you want to use “decision maker” to identify a person, place or object, then no hyphen is necessary. The same is true if you’re using it as a specific title. However, you can use it if it will clarify a written sentence. Observe the following to see its proper grammatical use:
We need to select a decision maker for the committee.
Sally is the official decision maker for office supplies. [hyphenation is possible here]
Parents are the only decision maker for their children until they turn 18 years old.
Understanding the Differences
To help further your understanding of when to use a hyphen with “decision maker,” compare the correct, acceptable and incorrect examples given below.
- Correct: Decision-maker software can really help people who tend to be hesitant.
- Incorrect: Decision maker software can really help people who tend to be hesitant.
- Correct: Decision Maker, Steve, says we should order more blankets.
- Acceptable: Decision-Maker, Steve, says we should order more blankets.
- Acceptable: Steve the decision-maker says we should order more blankets.
The basic way to remember whether to include a hyphen between “decision” and “maker” is if you are using it as an adjective. This is for describing something or someone that makes decisions. When you use it as a noun, it’s not nearly as strict.