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English Grammar

Compound Adjectives
How compound adjectives are formed.


A compound adjective is an adjective that is made up of two or more individual words.
Compound adjectives are formed from a variety of combinations.
When they precede a noun they are hyphenated.
Example: It was a badly-lit hall. The hall was badly lit.

ADJECTIVE + NOUN NOUN + ADJECTIVE
full-length, blue-collar, last-minute, deep-sea
- A full-length portrait of the King greeted us.
- He was popular with blue-collar workers.
- Her participation was a last-minute decision.
- He's keen on deep-sea diving.
smoke-free, ice-cold, world-famous, user-friendly
- They looked for a smoke-free area.
- We were served ice-cold drinks.
- He became a world-famous actor.
- She built a user-friendly website.
ADJECTIVE + PRESENT PARTICIPLE NOUN + PRESENT PARTICIPLE
good-looking, far-reaching, quick-thinking, long-lasting, time-saving
- The war will have far-reaching effects.
- A quick-thinking witness saved the child.
- The drug has long-lasting effects.
- She gave me some time-saving ideas.
record-breaking, coal-mining, time-saving, eye-opening, English-speaking
- They served mouth-watering food.
- An English-speaking man answered the phone.
- He grew up in a coal-mining town.
- It was an eye-opening experience.
ADJECTIVE+ PAST PARTICIPLE NOUN + PAST PARTICIPLE
old-fashioned, narrow-minded, cold-blooded, level-headed, red-haired
- She wore old-fashioned clothes.
- My grandfather was a narrow-minded man.
- Snakes are cold-blooded animals.
- Ask a level-headed person for advice.
sun-dried, middle-aged, wind-powered, tree-lined
- I love sun-dried tomatoes.
- The book attracted middle-aged readers.
- They drove down a tree-lined avenue.
- We use wind-powered generators.
ADVERB + PAST PARTICIPLE NOUN + NOUN
deeply-rooted, well-prepared, highly-respected, well-known, badly-behaved
- These people hold deeply-rooted beliefs.
- The writer is a highly-respected scholar.
- The leader gave a well-prepared speech.
- In came a group of badly-behaved children.
apple-pie, part-time, coffee-table, bullet-proof, counter-top
- Pour the mixture into an apple-pie tin.
- Bullet-proof vests contain very strong fibers.
- Some of us are part-time workers.
- Coffee-table books are often expensive.
IDIOMATIC PHRASES NUMBER + NOUN (*singular noun)
middle-of-the-road, off-the-rack, over-the-counter, all-too-common
- He's a middle-of-the-road entertainer.
- She bought over-the-counter medicine.
- Off-the-rack suits come in standard sizes.
- It is an all-too-common mistake.
ten-minute, five-day, twenty-storey, two-way, three-week, five-star, ten-foot
- We took a ten-minute break.
- I work a five-day week.
- Our office is in a twenty-storey building.
- We stayed in a five-star hotel.

See also: repeated adjectives  and  double-comparatives

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