Compound adjectives

Vocabulary Reference

Session 1: Hyphens

Compound adjectives with hyphens in them include:

adjective/adverb + present participle
a hard-working student, a good-looking man

ages and numbers before a noun
eighteen-year-old students, a two-door car

compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine
fifty-two, seventy-eight

Compound adjectives can be formed in other ways, for example:

adjective/adverb + noun
a last-minute decision, a one-way street, full-time staff

noun + adjective
a world-famous athlete

adverb/noun + past participle before a noun
well-respected politicians, a battery-operated toy

three-word compound adjectives before a noun
an out-of-date hairstyle, an out-of-work father

Compound adjectives without hyphens include:

adverb/noun + the past participle after a noun
the politicians were well respected, this toy is battery operated

three-word compound adjectives after a noun
that hairstyle is out of date, his father is out of work

compound adjectives made with an adverb ending in –ly, both before and after a noun
a carefully written letter, the letter was carefully written

Compound nouns do not usually have a hyphen, for example:
secondary school, swimming pool, ice cream

But a few compound nouns are hyphenated, for example:
t-shirt, mother-in-law

 

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