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Is it In Between, Inbetween, or Between?

Dave Matthew said "sometimes it's the Space Between that 'keeps us coming back for more.' Especially when you're unsure if there's a space between in and between.

Is “in between” one word or two?

Is ‘in between’ is one word or two? Does in between need a hyphen, like inbetween? What does in between even mean?

In between is written as two words, always.

Inbetween written as a single word, is incorrect, and a common spelling error and mistake. Avoid this mistake in writing: make sure to write ‘in between’ separately; as in, with a space between.

What does in between mean?

Definition: Between means “in or into the space that separates two places, people, or objects.” (Cambridge Dictionary, between.) A couple sentence examples with between in action. Sentence examples are from Cambridge Dictionary on ‘between’.

The town lies halfway between Rome and Florence.

On the train I was sitting between two very large men.

There were two houses with a narrow path in between.

“Between” vs. “in between”

This is a slightly more complicated question; though it’s beneficial to know, since ‘in’ is regularly placed before between, even when it’s not needed. Using the preposition in before between is a small grammar mistake; it’s less egregious than writing in between as a single word, for sure. So, when does the preposition in go before between? See in the first and second sentence examples above, the preposition of place, in, could theoretically be written before between.

Placing in before between will not impact the sentence’s meaning or cause confusion for whomever is reading. Still, it’s not necessary for the sentence to make sense, and this is what makes it a grammatical error, though minor. As a general rule: in is not always needed before between for the sentence to make sense. Most times, between is correct on its own. In sentences where everything makes sense without in before between, omit it. Omitting the in improves the sentence and overall clarity, and makes the writing more concise. As a good rule of thumb, in writing, if a word is not necessary or doesn’t enhance the intelligibility or clarify of what’s written, it’s probably not worth keeping in the sentence.

The lesson here is that more often than not, between is fine on its own, without in. There are times where the preposition in is acceptable and correct to include, and these cases are fairly intuitive. For non-native English speakers and learners, it may be more awkward to grasp when to include the preposition or not, but when in is part of the prepositional phrase in the sentence, it is acceptable to include in.

Does in between have a hyphen?

When used as a compound adjective, in between uses a hyphen.

I would grow my hair longer, but I dread that awful in-between stage.

This suit isn’t gray or blue, it’s in-between.

One dress was too elegant, the other too casual; she had nothing inbetween.

As a compound adjective (compounds are made up of two words, in + between,) in-between typically goes after the subject noun, and uses a hyphen, as shown in the sentence examples above.

Examples of sentences with “in between”

The following sentences demonstrate the correct use of in between, between, and in-between. Sentence examples are from Cambridge Dictionary on ‘between’:

1. Put the two smaller vases on the ends and the big one in between.

2. I have two classes this morning, with a short break in between.

3. Try to avoid snacks in between meals.

4. Feel free to drop by in between the hours of three and six o’clock today.

5. Fifteen is too few, but 30 is probably too many–somewhere in between would be about right.

Synonyms for “in between”

This list of words and phrases share a similar meaning with the phrase in between and/or between, and can be written in the same or similar contexts:

  • Amid
  • In the middle
  • In the process of
  • Intermediate
  • In the midst
  • Amongst
  • Mid
  • In the thick of
  • In the middle of
  • During
  • Surrounded by
  • Halfway

Origin of between

From Old English betweonum “in the space which separates, midway, in the midst, among; by turns.” Between is a compound of the preposition by (bi,) which derives from the Proto-Germanic, meaning “near, in, by, during, about,” and  tweonum, which is the plural of “two each,’ from the Proto-Indo European languages.

In review

Grammar rule 1: in between is always two words and never one word. Inbetween as a single word is incorrect and improper spelling. It won’t be found in the dictionary.

Grammar rule 2: in-between uses a hyphen when it functions as a compound adjective.

Phrases with “between”

The expression ‘caught between a rock and a hard place,’ is a way of saying that you’re stuck in a dilemma, or an extremely difficult situation where no option is more appealing than the other. The expression was originally cowboy slang, and its original wording was (get ready for it!!)

‘Caught between the beetle and the block.’

This was your #FunFact! of the day. Who would have guessed that a lesson on ‘in between’ vs ‘between’ would end with cowboy slang? Keep an open mind to learning, and enjoy the wild (wild west) ride!

What’re personal pronouns?

What’s the difference between they’re, their, and there?

Whose vs who’s?


  1. Definitions of in between
  2. In between vs between
  3. Sentence examples between
  4. Phrasal verbs
  5. Between idiom
  6. Etymology of between
  7. Prepositional phrase
  8. Origin of the preposition by

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