When two or more words combine to form a single adjective, this is called a compound adjective. The words are usually linked together to show that they form a single modifier.
Usage of hyphens in compound adjectives is more prevalent in the UK than in the US. However, if in doubt, use one – they generally make it easier for the reader.
Sometimes the hyphen is necessary to avoid ambiguity:
- I like my steak well-done.
In this example, the hyphen makes it clear that the person likes their steak cooked for a long time, rather than a general comment that they like it to be cooked competently.
Examples of Compound Adjectives
- This is a four-page document.
- I am a part-time worker.
- He is a well-heeled man.
- I love a brightly-lit room!
- You should be more open-minded about things.