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A very efficient way of creating new words is to make COMPOUND ADJECTIVES. Making compound adjectives is as easy as making compound nouns; obviously, the compound adjectives will have their own rules which will have to be respected. The important element of this composition is the second one.
BE CAREFUL! Like all adjectives in English, compound adjectives never take the plural form, even if the plural meaning is evident. A word which has the function of an adjective can never be in the plural. ( a four-letter word; a two-hundred-page book).
THE DIFFERENT FORMS of COMPOUND ADJECTIVES:
1) When the second element of the composition is an adjective:
- To be self-confident : to have confidence in oneself
- This adjective may express a colour:
Noun + Adjective ( a colour): we should remember that the second element is the important one and here, this important element is the COLOUR:
- a sky-blue blouse = a blouse which is as blue as the sky;
Similarly: blood-red = as red as blood; brick-red = as red as a brick; lemon-yellow = as yellow as a lemon; snow-white= as white as snow. Be very careful!...
Learners find it very difficult to make this precise construction... I advise you to learn 'blood-red' and 'sky-blue' by heart and then, to replicate them for more...
2) When the second element of this composition is a verb:
a) Verb + ING : as it is done for simple adjectives in -ing, compound adjectives in -ing have AN ACTIVE MEANING (, which means that the subjetct is ACTING).
- a hard-working girl= a girl who works hard ; SHE works hard.
- a heart-breaking decision= a decision which breaks somebody's heart. (the 'decision' is acting!)
b) Verb + ED (past participle) : simple adjectives in - ing as well as compound one ending in -ed have A PASSIVE MEANING.
- a home-made dress= a dress which was made at home.
- a wind-swept cliff = a cliff which is swept by the wind (to sweep, swept, swept)
BEWARE of the one exception : a well-behaved person = a person who behaves well ...(it has here an active meaning)
3) When the second element is a NOUN + the suffix - ed. The first element indicates a shape, a colour, an abstract quality, a number, a material: Adjective+ noun+ ed.
* expresses a physical characteristic of a person or of an object:
- a blue-eyed girl ; a red-haired boy (colour + noun+ ed);
- a long-legged dog ; - a three-legged table = a table with three legs.
* expresses the different parts of an object:
- gold-rimmed glasses = glasses with a golden rim; a wide-brimmed hat = a hat which has wide brims.
* an abstract quality or characteristic:
- a narrow-minded person = a person with a narrow mind; a bad-tempered man = a man who has a bad temper.
Expressing an age or a number:
- He is 11 (years old) => an eleven-year-old boy ; here, you need two hyphens (between the three words) The hyphens are more frequent in compound adjectives than for compound nouns. Please, note that year must remain in the singular.
- This book has 320 pages => It is a 320-page book ( page must remain in the singular);
- A three-hour walk ( hour is in the singular).
- a ninety-cent stamp = (cent is in the singular).
Well well! That's it! You're ready for the test, now! I give you THE FORCE!
English exercise "Compound adjectives" created by here4u with The test builder. [More lessons & exercises from here4u]
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