Compound Adjectives in English

Revisado porIryna Andrus / más sobre Proceso editorial
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Have you noticed that when describing something, you often use two or more words together to form a single phrase? Those two or more words are called compound adjectives, and they are an integral part of English.

In this reference, we will discuss what is a compound adjective, see some examples of how to use them in sentences, and provide a handy compound adjective list for you to learn!

What are compound adjectives

Compound adjectives definition: “two or more words that are used together to form a single phrase that functions as an adjective.”

They can be formed by combining nouns, verbs, adverbs, or other adjectives. For example, the phrase "single-minded" is a compound adjective formed by combining the adjective "single" and the noun "mind." Compound adjectives help us add more detail to a sentence and make it more descriptive.

The most common compound adjective examples are formed by combining two adjectives, such as "big-hearted" or "well-dressed".

However, other types are also possible. For example, a compound adjective can be formed by combining a noun and an adjective, such as "snow-white." You can also combine a verb and an adverb, such as "carefully-crafted".

Examples of compound adjectives in sentences

Compound adjectives are usually placed directly before the noun they are describing. For example, the sentence "She is a big-hearted person" uses the compound adjective "big-hearted" to describe the person.

Here are some examples of compound adjectives in sentences:

  • "He is a hard-working student."
  • "She is a fast-talking woman."
  • "The house was old-fashioned."
  • "He has a good-natured personality."
  • "She is a well-dressed woman."
  • "The computer was state-of-the-art."

As you can see, compound adjectives always provide more detail about a noun. They can help to make a sentence more interesting and descriptive.

Using compound adjectives

When using compound adjectives, it is important to remember that they should always be placed directly before the noun they are describing. For example, in the sentence "She is a hard-working student", the compound adjective "hard-working" is placed directly before the noun "student".

In addition, there's almost always a compound equivalent for most common words in English. For example, instead of saying "She is a good person", you can say "She is a kind-hearted person". This helps to give more detail and make the sentence more interesting.

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When to hyphenate compound adjectives

When writing compound adjectives, it is important to remember to hyphenate them. This is because compound adjectives are usually made up of two or more words, so it can be difficult to tell where the first word ends and the next one begins without the help of a hyphen.

For example, the phrase "well dressed" is incorrect without a hyphen because it could mean either "well" (adverb) + "dressed" (adjective) or "well-dressed" (compound adjective). The correct phrase is "well-dressed", with a hyphen.

It is also important to remember that compound adjectives should always be hyphenated when they come before the noun they are describing. For example, in the sentence "She is a well-dressed woman", the compound adjective "well-dressed" is hyphenated and placed directly before the noun "woman".

However, you don't have to hyphenate compound adjectives when they come after the noun. For example, in the sentence "She is a woman who is well dressed", the compound adjective "well dressed" does not need to be hyphenated.

Comparing compound adjectives

Compound adjectives can also be used in comparative and superlative forms.  For example, you can say that someone is the "hardest-working person in the room." to indicate that they are working harder than anyone else in the room. Similarly, you can say that someone is "happier than ever" to indicate that they are happier than they have ever been before.

You don't have to hyphenate these comparative and superlative forms, but it can be helpful to do so to make your meaning clear. For example, you could say that someone is the "hardest working person", but this could be interpreted to mean that they are the only hard-working person around. By hyphenating the compound adjective, you make it clear that you are comparing their work ethic to someone else.

List of compound adjectives

Here is a list of 20 common compound adjectives:

  • hard-working
  • high-tech
  • long-term
  • low-budget
  • old-fashioned
  • open-minded
  • right-handed
  • well-dressed
  • well-known
  • white-collar
  • wide-eyed
  • well-read
  • well-received
  • high-end
  • low-key
  • close-knit
  • high-energy
  • hard-hitting
  • fast-paced
  • strong-willed

As you can see, compound adjectives are quite common. They can be formed by combining two adjectives, two nouns, a verb and an adverb, or other combinations.

List of 20 common compound adjectives:

Summary

Compound adjectives are an important part of English. They are two or more words that are used together to form a single phrase that functions as an adjective. Compound adjectives are often used to provide more detail about a noun and make a sentence more interesting and descriptive.

When writing compound adjectives, it is important to remember to properly hyphenate them, not to split them up with other words, and to place them directly before the noun they are describing.

If you follow these tips, you'll have no trouble fluently creating your own compound descriptions in no time!

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Comentarios

Jay 💻Nov 28th, 2023
I'm impressed by the quality of this article. It's evident that the author has a deep understanding of the compound adjectives.