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Combining Various Parts of Speech

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
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You will also form compound adjectives by combining various parts of speech. Here's the way hyphenation works:

Combining   Parts of Speech Rule on   Hyphenation Example
adjective + noun with -ed suffix Hyphenate before noun, open after noun. straight-laced Senator
coarse-grained surface of the table (before noun)
The surface of the table was coarse grained   (after noun).
adjective or participle + noun Hyphenate these compounds, which always precede the noun. hot-water tank
ninth-floor office and living-room window
adverb ending in ‑ly + participle or adjective Always open (never hyphenated) (this is a common mistake). publicly traded stock (-ly adverb + past participle)
widely used procedure (-ly adverb + past participle)
rapidly increasing revenues (-ly adverb + present participle)
    privately held corporation (-ly adverb + past participle)
    newly rich nation (-ly adverb + adjective)
adverb not ending in ‑ly + participle or adjective Open unless hyphenation needed to avoid ambiguity. ever faithful friend
much loved friend
much-loved music (to avoid "much loved music")
    less-appreciated art (to avoid "less appreciated art")
adverbs well, ill, better, best, little, lesser, least + participle or adjective Hyphenated before noun, open after noun, open if modified by adverb. well-known actress
The actress is well known.
the supposedly well known actress (modified by adverb supposedly)
least-desirable procedure
    This procedure is least desirable.
noun + adjective Hyphenated before noun, open after noun if ambiguity avoided. fuel-efficient engine
    labor-intensive business
    user-friendly computer program
    The computer program is user friendly.
noun + participle Hyphenated before noun, open after noun if ambiguity avoided. decision-making process
government-controlled economy
    resource-depleted environment
    The environment was resource depleted.
profit-making enterprise
compound adjectives of long standing Hyphenate phrases of long standing before and after noun. Before noun: devil-may-care attitude
Before noun: up-to-date review.
After noun: The review is up-to-date.
Before noun: over-the-hill athlete.
After noun: The athlete is over-the-hill.
phrase ending with preposition Hyphenate before noun, open after noun if no ambiguity spelled-out fraction
unheard-of defense
    This defense was unheard of.
made-up compound adjective
    The compound adjective was made up.
proper nouns used as adjective Hyphenated, open, or closed depending on how the compound appears in the dictionary. Afro-American family
    Scotch-Irish ancestry
    Austronesian heritage


Previous: Compound Adjectives - A Long List

Next: Chapter 11 - Apostrophe

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