Hyphenated Adjectives – 10 Minute English Learning

We can form hyphenated phrases that are placed before nouns to say more precisely what the noun refers to:

  • a state-of-the-art (= very modern) laboratory
  • day-to-day (= regular) life
  • a head-in-the-sand attitude (= refusing to think about unpleasant facts)
  • a four-wheel-drive vehicle (= one in which the engine provides power to all four wheels so that it can go over rough ground smoothly)
  • a security-card-operated door
    • Politicians generally make a lot of pie-in-the-sky (= an event that somebody talks about seems very unlikely to happen) promises and never go back on their words.
    • She was expected to do much better, but gave a very run-of-the-mill (= ordinary, with no special or interesting features, often disapproving) performance. And guess what then? The critics expressed their disapproval in their reports the following day.
    • We all were planning to go to Mount Abu, but then changed our mind because we wanted many out-of-the-way (= far from a town or city) places that few tourists had visited before.
    • Stuart is good-for-nothing (= lazy and without skills) in our team and a deadweight. He drags the performance of the entire team.
    • I remember his dire strait. He was almost broke and lived a hand-to-mouth (= to spend all the money that you earn on basic needs such as food without being able to save any money) existence, surviving on just a few dollars a week.
    • Behind-the-scenes (= in a way that people, in general, are not aware of) negotiations took place between the two countries in vain.
    • She listened to them patiently and spoke in a matter-of-fact (= used to disagree with something that somebody has just said, actually) way about the verbal attack.
    • The one-size-fits-all policy does not work well for all corporations.

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