Curso First Certificate Exam



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Word formation






Hyphen is a punctuation mark () used between parts of a compound word or between the syllables of a word when the word is divided at the end of a line of text.

There are no fixed rules about the use of hyphens, but they are often used in these four situations:

1. In compound adjectives (especially those adjectives which are formed with -ed or a past participle):

fullsized  /  badtempered  /  blackeyed  /  homemade

2. A phrase with a numeral is used as an adjective in front of a noun:

The flat has one bed: a onebed flat
The holiday is two days: a two
day holiday
The tie costs one hundred dollars: a hundred
dollar tie

3. In compound nouns:

tabletop  /  drawingboard  /  makeup  /  coffeepot

But when two short nouns are combined they often form one word without a hyphen (doormat, daylight), unless the combination would cause a problem of recognition (boat-house rather than boathouse).

MY ADVICE: If you are not sure whether to use a hyphen in a compound noun, please leave out the hyphen, or check in a dictionary.

4. With some prefixes:

miniskirt  /  cooperate  /  exwife  /  nonsmoker


Adjectives which are made with combinations of two (or sometimes more) words are called compound adjectives:

good-looking   /   old-fashioned   /   three-day

These are some examples of compound adjectives taken from the article on the previous page. They are made with:

a. A present participle: selfcleansing

b. A word that ends in -ed: fullsized

c. A phrasal verb: folddown

d. A numeral: onebed

And now let us see how to turn the phrases below into the formula COMPOUND ADJECTIVE + NOUN:

a. A garden which is 10 metres long  >>   a tenmetre garden

b. A TV set which has broken down  >>   a brokendown TV set

c. A job which has lasted a long time  >>   a longlasting job

d. A cake which was made at home  >>   a homemade cake

e. A test which takes two hours to do  >>   a twohour test

f. A book which costs half as much as usual  >>   a halfprice book


Nouns which are made with combinations of two or more words are called compound nouns:

teapot   /   washing-up   /   bubble bath

These are some examples of compound nouns taken from the article on the previous page. They are made with:

a. One word: doormat, washbasin, worktop, daylight.

b. With a hyphen (): table-top, drawing-board, boat-house.

c. Two words: front door, business suits, central heating.

And now study what COMPOUND NOUNS these definitions refer to:

a. An alarm which warns you about a burglar  >>   a burglar alarm

b. A pan used to fry food  >>   a frying pan

c. Something used to open tins  >>   a tinopener

d. A room where people eat meals  >>   a dining room

e. Your sister's husband  >>   your brotherinlaw

f. A container where you throw waste paper  >>   a wastepaper basket


Many adjectives can be formed by adding a suffix to a noun or verb. This word formation table contains some words from the text.:




luxury - luxurious
comfort comfort comfortable
convention - conventional
waste waste wasteful
care care careful / careless
life live lively (living / alive)
wit - witty





Muy interesantes las explicaciones de Mr. Grammar !!! En la página siguiente tendrás la oportunidad de poner en práctica los conocimientos adquiridos ...


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