Compound adjectives

10385687664_2d70b65728_z

Cookie Pug in Red by Moro Fenrir, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Sometimes when we use more than one word as an adjective we need to join those words with a hyphen to show they belong together and make our meaning clear.

For example if we say “man-eating tiger” the hyphen helps us to know that the tiger eats people. If we leave it out—”man eating tiger”—it could mean completely the opposite. 

It’s not always the case that the meaning changes so dramatically if you leave out the hyphen, but including hyphens in the right places does help the reader and improves clarity. Examples include “virus-associated clinical signs”, “antigen-stimulated cytokine release”, “domestic short-haired cat”. And if you are talking about the dog pictured above, you may want to talk about a short dog wearing a coat—”a short, coated dog”—or a dog wearing a short coat—”a short-coated dog”.

It can be hard to know when you need a hyphen and when you don’t. This short video by Uncle Mike from soisitjustme gives some good examples and a quick trick to help tell.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Compound adjectives

  1. Pingback: Long subjects | MVM learning

  2. Pingback: 2016 posting roundup | MVM learning

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s