What Are Compound Adjectives? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 Compound Adjectives
  • 1:02 Examples of Compound…
  • 1:20 More Examples
  • 2:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: T.J. Hoogsteen

T.J. is currently a grade 5 teacher and Vice-Principal. He has a master's degree in Educational Administration and is working toward an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.

What are compound adjectives? If this is a question you've been wondering about, then take a look at this lesson. We'll explore the definition of compound adjectives and look at some examples.

Compound Adjectives

What's the difference between these two examples?

Beware of the man eating tiger.

And

Beware of the man-eating tiger.

At first sight, the only difference is this little mark, - , a hyphen. But that little mark actually makes a huge difference in the meaning of those two sentences. Let's explore how that hyphen changes the meaning.

In the first example, there is no hyphen. Without the hyphen, 'man eating tiger' sounds like the man is eating a tiger.

In the second example, the sentence has a hyphen between man and eating. This hyphen creates a different meaning; it means that the tiger likes to eat humans.

The hyphen in the second sentence creates a type of word called a compound adjective. Compound adjectives are made when two or more adjectives are joined together to modify, or describe, the same noun. Using a hyphen helps to avoid confusion, such as in the example above. Compound adjectives are also sometimes called hyphenated adjectives.

Examples of Compound Adjectives

Here are some more examples of compound adjectives:

  • Snakes and other reptiles are cold-blooded animals.
  • The Great Pyrenees is a white-furred breed of dog.
  • The 36-year-old baseball player retired.
  • The 3-foot-deep puddle covers the playground.

More Examples

Let's take a look at a sentence that does not have a hyphen:

Example 1

The concert floor is full of ten year old girls.

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