Let us take a look in this lesson at compound adjectives.
They are short phrases made up of two or more words usually (but not always) with hythens between them.
An adjective is a describing word and it describes a person, animal, object, thing or place.
THE BASIC RULES
- They are formed in one of three ways by using the –ed ending or –ing ending of a verb or with the past participle of a verb
- Combining an adverb and an adjective does NOT create a compound adjective.
No hyphen is required because it is already clear that the adverb modifies the adjective rather than the subsequent noun.
It was a terribly hot day
It is an amazingly good idea
- A hyphen should not be placed in a compound adjective if the adjectives are capitalized such as when they are part of a title.
- Do not confuse compact adjectives with compound nouns (eg schoolteacher) or with short phrases joining an adjective and noun to create a noun phrase (pretty woman)
- Use a hyphen when the compound adjective comes before the noun it modifies but not when it comes after the noun
We walked into a brightly-lit room.
We walked into a room that was brightly lit (not hyphenated)
The Louvre is a world-famous museum.
The Louvre Museum is world famous. (not hyphenated)
It was a gap-filling exercise.
The exercise was gap filling.
- Always remember that an adjective describes something identified by a noun even if the actual noun is not mentioned in the sentence or is replaced by a pronoun.
Let us look at three kind of common compound adjectives for
- People, animals, places and general things
There’s a three-second delay
Let’s take a ten-minute break
She attended a two-hour seminar
He went on a five-day trek
We took a six-week holiday.
Cheating in the examination means one-month suspension
I have a two-year old contract with my cell phone provider
I have a eight-year-old son
We live a fifteenth-century cottage
My boss asked me to read a twenty-page report
It was a thought-provoking political thriller.
The political thriller was thought provoking.
It was a heart-warming drama based on a true story.
The drama was heart-warming.
It was an award-winning adventure about survival in the wilderness.
The adventure film about survival in the wilderness was award winning.
It was certaimly an edge-of-your-seat blockbuster.
The blockbuster kept me on the edge of my seat.
It was a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy.
The comedy film made me laugh out loud.
It was a truly spine-chilling horror film.
The horror film was truly spine chilling.
The film was a far-fetched, action-packed drama about humans meeting an alien.
The film drama was far fetched and action packed.
It was an entertaining computer-generated cartoon film.
The entertaining cartoon film was computer-generated
NOTE – In the phrase ‘computer generated’, ‘computer’ is a noun and ‘computer-generated’ is NOT a compound noun but a NOUN PHRASE.
The actor gave a rip-roaring performance in the movie.
The actor’s performance in the movie was rip-roaring.
The performance of the actor in the movie was rip-roaring.
I have just bought a brand-new car.
My sister is a very short-sighted person.
I wear old-fashioned clothes.
You have to be open-minded about things in life today.
I live in a densely-populated country.
We should preserve deeply-rooted traditions from the past.
My wife thinks I am very good-looking
When it comes to public speaking, I get tongue-tied.
Would you like to be part of the decision-making process? (noun phrase)
The decision will have far-reaching consequences.
I adore this brightly-lit room.
Donna is a part-time waitress.
Did you know that snakes were cold-blooded?
What a well-behaved child!
The Rio Carnival is a never-ending parade of floats.
The athlete gave a record-breaking performance.
My Mother is a kind-hearted woman.
Argentina is a Spanish-speaking country.
I like using time-saving devices. (noun phrase)
J.K. Rowling is a well-known writer
That is more than enough for you the student to absorb and learn in this lesson.
Deciding whether to put a hyphen between two adjectives will make you hesitate after you see some of the written sentences above.
It is a general rule but NOT an absolute rule when the compound adjective follows the noun.
I suggest you look out the two lessons recently posted on the blog about Noun Phrases which compliment this lesson to understand about phrases within a sentence.