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editpaperCompound Adjectives; Using the Hyphen Well

In English, we can form compound adjectives to modify nouns by adding a hyphen between two words that both modify the noun.

Thus, we can create new adjectives ourselves or choose from ones already created by others. For example, we take the words "tight" and "fisted" and combine them to make "tight-fisted" as in a "tight-fisted person (one who keeps money tightly held in the fist, or, in other words, cheap).

Some common combinations include, even-handed, hard-nosed, pig-headed, wide-eyed and fair-haired.

For more complete information and some rules on creating your own compound adjectives, visit the BBC World Service Learning English page.

(April 19, 2009)

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