A few more examples:
A man with dark hair and blue eyes is a dark-haired, blue-eyed man.
A person with long legs is a long-legged person.
As you can see, all these examples are formed by adding -ed to an adjective-noun combination. But this is by no means the only one possible. Keep reading to find others.
|Frogs are cold-blooded animals|
Image by Drriss
A compound adjective is a combination of two or more words that works as an adjective. These words can be adjectives, nouns, adverbs or participles, and they can be hyphenated or not. A hyphen is a punctuation mark in the form of a short line (-) that is put between two words to join them.
Sometimes, more than two words can be found forming a compound (up-to-date, state-of-the-art,..) These expressions are only found hyphenated when they precede the noun they qualify, but not when they follow linking verbs. Examples:
If you are a fashion lover, read these tips to stay up to date.
I like to follow the latest up-to-date trends.
His house is state of the art. It is full of the latest gadgets.
I love state-of-the-art technology.
Noun + adjective
Trustworthy, blameworthy, duty-free, tax-free, seasick, watertight, waterproof, colour-blind, worldwide, knee-deep, self-conscious, and other compounds that are equivalent to the construction "as...as..." : brick red (as red as brick), stone-cold (as cold as a stone), paper-thin (as thin as paper)
- A combination of two qualities: bitter-sweet, deaf-mute.
- A combination in which the first element takes the suffix -o: socio-economic, Anglo-Saxon, Franco-German, Anglo-American. In this case, all the combinations are hyphenated.
- A combination in which the first adjective qualifies the second adjective: dark-blue, red-hot, Roman-Catholic.
Evergreen, oversensitive, all-American
Self-defeating, self-denying, heart-breaking, breath-taking, law-abiding,
Self-taught, hand-made, thunderstruck, home-brewed, heart-felt, brightly-lit, open-minded, well-behaved
Adjective or adverb+present participle
Forthcoming, everlasting, neverending, easygoing, good-looking
Adjective or adverb+past participle
Far-fetched, well-meant, widespread, new-laid, long-awaited
Second-hand, first-rate. Notice that adjectives using numbers, like any other adjectives, are not found in the plural. Thus, a boy who is twelve years old is a twelve-year-old boy, or a tree which measures three metres is a three-metre-tall tree. These expressions with numbers are always hyphenated.
Apart from the common formation that we have seen at the beginning of this post, in which the noun takes the suffix -ed, there are other possibilities such as last-minute, deep-sea, ...
Verb+adjective or adverb
Feel-good, buy-now, pay-later
And remember that new combinations are always possible. You can create your own adjective!
Let's watch this video about two beautiful brown-eyed girls. Notice that the song by Van Morrison is called "Brown Eyed girl". Why doesn't it have a hyphen? Because you don't need it in titles! Enjoy!
Choose the correct adjective from the ones given
Complete the sentences with a compound adjective
Choose the appropriate compound adjective
For advanced students
Match the compound adjectives with their definitions