Compound adjectives

In English, some adjectives can consist of two or more words. These are compound adjectives. Compound adjectives are usually written with hyphens when they are used in front of a noun they modify. For example, in the phrase man-eating lion’, ‘man-eating’ is a compound adjective. ‘man eating lion’ means something different. As you can see, a hyphen changes the meaning of a phrase.


Here are some examples of compound adjectives:
  • She has a well-behaved child.
  • He is a good-looking young man.
  • It’s a sugar-free chewing gum.
  • They are long-distance lorry drivers.

If a compound noun comes after the noun, it can drop the hyphen.
  • a well-balanced diet
  • The team was very well balanced.

Compound adjectives can be formed with periods of time.
  • We’ll take a ten-minute break.
  • There has been a two-hour delay.
  • I was on a two-year contract.

We don’t add a plural ending to the compound adjectives with periods of time.
  • We’re going on a six-days trip.
  • … a six-day trip

Other common types are:

Adjective
+
Past participle
old-fashioned
narrow-minded
dark-haired
Adjective
+
Present participle
good-looking
long-running
easy-going
Adverb
+
Past participle
well-established
brightly-coloured
densely-populated
Noun
+
Past participle
sun-baked
wind-blown
water-cooled
Noun
+
Present participle
eye-catching
mouth-watering
money-saving
Noun
+
Adjective
world-famous
sugar-free
book-smart


Compound adjectives

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