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Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #116892: Compound adjectives for beginners
Compound adjectives for beginners
Compound-adjectives, which are widely used in English, are formed of different elements. We're going to study them below. They have their own rules that you'll have to know.
BEWARE! Like every adjective in English, compound-adjectives are NEVER put in the plural, even is this plural is obvious.
- a four-letter word = un mot de quatre lettres; a sixty-year-old GrandMa
I) COMPOUND ADJECTIVES are formed from a verb:
a) Adjective+ verb+ ing : like simple adjectives in -ing, compound adjectives in -ing have AN ACTIVE MEANING (which means that the SUBJECT is doing the action). Compound-adjectives follow this pattern: TO BE+ verbal adjective+ -ing= active meaning: The action is taking place, is in progression (progressive aspect).
- a hard-working boy = a boy who works hard; HE works hard.
b) Adjective+ verb+ ed: Verb+ ED (= past participle):
like all simple adjectives in -ed, compound adjectives in -ed, HAVE A PASSIVE MEANING ( which means that the subject ENDURES (or has endured) the action!) let's follow this pattern: : TO BE+ verbal adjective + -ed= passive meaning: the action is endured and has a passive meaning.
an exception: a well-behaved person = a person who behaves well ...
- a home-made cake = a cake which was made at home.
II) COMPOUND ADJECTIVES built from an adjective (drawn from a participle, or not) and from a noun+-ed
* expresses the physical characteristic of a person or an object:
- a blue-eyed girl; a red-haired boy; a long-legged dog; a three-legged table= a table with three legs.
* describes the different parts of an object:
- gold-rimmed glasses= glasses with gold rims; a wide-brimmed hat= a hat which has wide brims.
* an abstract quality or characteristic:
- a narrow-minded person - a broad-minded person; a bad-tempered man= a man who has a bad temper
III) Expression of age or of a number:
- - He is 11 (years old)=> He is an eleven-year-old boy;
2 hyphens are necessary (between the 3 words). The use of hyphens is more common for compound adjectives than for compound nouns . Please, not that « year » cannot be put in the plural.
- This book has 560 pages=> it is a 560-page book (page is in the adjective) ; A three-hour walk= a walk which lasts 3 hours ("hour" is singular in the adjective).
- an eighty-cent stamp = "cent" is in the singular.
Here are the bases, corresponding to what every Beginner should be able to master... You will brilliantly pass this test, and if you feel like it, you may then try yourself at a more difficult lesson and test test. Good luck!
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