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2.03 Nouns with adjectives and participles

(a) Hyphenate noun-plus-adjective compounds (in that order), whether used attributively or predicatively:

  • duty-free goods
    • The goods were duty-free.
  • tax-exempt bonds
    • The bonds are tax-exempt.

(b) Hyphenate noun-plus-participle compounds regardless of the position:

  • snow-capped mountains
    • The mountains are snow-capped.
  • a time-consuming activity
    • This activity is time-consuming.


There are a number of them, including handmade and handwritten.

(c) Do not hyphenate noun-plus-gerund compounds (present participle used as a noun); they may be written as one or as separate words:

  • decision making
  • power sharing
  • problem solving
  • deficit spending
  • housekeeping
  • shipbuilding
  • sightseeing
  • cabinetmaking


  • foot-dragging
  • gut-wrenching

See 2.04 Compound adjectives; adjectives and participles in compounds(e) for such compounds used adjectivally.