Compound Adjectives




A compound adjective is a modifier of a noun. Compound adjectives do not always have hyphens.  They are hyphenated to avoid confusion.


For example:

Small appliance industry = A small industry producing appliances

Small-appliance industry = An industry producing small appliances

However, they are not hyphenated if these modifying words come after the noun.

For example:
Water-proof gloves.   

The gloves are water proof.
A high-valued product.   

The product is high valued.
A long-term solution.   

The solution is long term.
A two-year-old toddler.   

A toddler who is two year old cannot control his/her emotion.


When combining an adverb (usually a word ending in "ly") and an adjective, words are not hyphenated because the adverb modifies the adjective rather than the subsequent noun.

For example:
An extremely long snake.

A highly publicized actress.




Types of hyphenated compound adjectives


(1) Adjective (including comparatives and superlatives) + Noun

A red-light district.  A full-time employee.  A high-level requirement. 

A large-scale development.  A shorter-term solution


(2) Numeric+ Noun (Singular)

A seven-year itch.  A ten-storey building.  A five-minute walk


(3) Noun + Noun (Adjectival phrases are often hyphenated to avoid confusion with nouns.)

A parent-teacher conference.  Some food-web dependencies. 

A crude-oil processing.  An ice-cream shop


(1) Adjective + Adjective

A dark-green dress.  A bitter-sweet memory.


(2) Noun + Adjective
A water-proof jacket.  A nation-wide campaign.  A duty-free shop. 

A world-famous player.



(1) Adjective (including comparatives and superlatives) + Participle

An ugly-looking goose = A goose which looks ugly.

A snow-covered mountain => A mountain which is covered with snow.

An eye-catching girl => A girl who catches people’s eyes.

A shorter-tempered person.  A narrow-minded person


(2) Adverb + Participle

A never-ending story => A story which never ends.

A well-paid salary.  A well-respected teacher


(3) Noun + Participle

An adventure-packed quest => A quest which is packed with adventures.

A home-made cookie.  A fun-loving person.


(4) Numeric + Past Participle
A one-eyed bear.  A two-sided story


(5) Past Participle + Adverb

A laid-off worker => A work who is laid off.

A scaled-down operation.


(6) Past Participle + Preposition

An agreed-upon solution.


D 介系詞為主的複合形容詞
(1) Preposition + Adjective

Over-ripe bananas are good for baking.


(2) Preposition + Noun

Before-tax deduction


E 詞為主的複合形容詞:
(1) Verb + Adjective

A feel-good factor


(2) Verb + Adverb

A drive-by shooting.  A shut-down factory.


(3) Verb + Preposition

A bang-up job


(4) Verb + Verb

A make-believe world

A give-and-take situation


(5) Verb + Noun

An open-top convertible.


F.  Infinitive 不定詞

A face-to-face meeting

A hard-to-please client


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