Public Works and Government Services Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Important notice

Good news! We have updated our writing tools. The Canadian Style and Writing Tips have been combined to create a new tool called Writing Tips Plus.

Don’t forget to update your bookmarks. The Canadian Style will be removed from the Language Portal of Canada in early 2021.


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