Tag Archives: adjectives

Compound Adjectives as Modifiers

You’ll need to use a hyphen when a two-or three-word (or more) adjective combination comes before a noun:

A three-week vacation

A family-owned business

An out-of-the-blue surprise

If you fail to use a hyphen in some sentences, you might end up writing, “Forty odd people attended the meeting.” It may be that all 40 were weirdos, but when you add a hyphen you show that approximately 40 attendees were there (although some of them may have been nuts). You’re just not certain of the actual body count in attendance.

However, if an adverb combination comes before a noun, do not use a hyphen:

A hastily gathered petition

The lazily flowing river

Remember, not all adverbs end in -ly. The daily newspaper shows an example of an adjective that ends in -ly.

Family and homily are two -ly words that are nouns.




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Cheesy and Corny

These two adjectives are used as pejoratives: cheesy meaning something cheap or cheaply made, and corny meaning trite or schmaltzy. (Schmaltz is chicken fat in Yiddish.  Go figure.)

Apparently, cheesy originated in the mid-19th century and alluded to the smell of overripe cheese. Perhaps that cheese was sold at a bargain rate, hence the adjective.

Corny arose when mail-order seed catalogs appeared in the early 1900s, and to fill out the spaces, seed companies would scatter the pages with cartoons and jokes. I imagine these were not of the highest level of sophistication, and the adjective corny became attached to them and their ilk.


Filed under All things having to do with the English language

I Am Annoyed By This Error EVERY DAY



This is not a sign for a puppy rescue group but merely an offering from a hot dog establishment.  The problem is that as one word, “everyday” is an adjective:  “Eating a hot dog is an everyday habit.”  What kind of habit (noun)?  An everyday (adjective) one.

However, this sign needed to make it two words.  Every day you can get a hot dog for $3.50.  Which day? Every day.  In this sense, “every” is an adjective modifying the noun “day.”

Go and sin no more.

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