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2.06 Adverbs in compounds

(a) Adverb-plus-participle compounds are among the most troublesome. Do not hyphenate those in which the adverb ends in ly:

  • richly embroidered
  • fully employed

In other cases, hyphenate before the noun:

  • ever-changing tides
  • far-reaching events
  • ill-educated person
  • well-fed cattle

Do not hyphenate when the compound follows the noun or pronoun and contains a past participle:

  • She is well known.
  • This applicant is ill suited for the job.

When the compound follows the noun or pronoun and contains a present participle, do not hyphenate if the participle has a verbal function, but hyphenate if it is adjectival in nature:

  • The narrative is fast-moving. (adjectival)


  • The narrative is fast moving toward a climax. (verbal)

(b) Do not hyphenate compounds consisting of an adverb or adverbial phrase plus an adjective (in that order) unless there is a danger of misreading:

  • equally productive means
  • a reasonably tall tree
  • an all too complacent attitude