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How should I use "passive-aggressive" as an adverb? My hunch is that this is correct:

Jack passive-aggressively said nothing.

What I consider incorrect:

Jack passively-aggressively said nothing.

Jack passively-aggressive said nothing.

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Is it really necessary to say passively-aggressively instead of passively and aggressively? – kiamlaluno Mar 17 '11 at 17:15
"passive-aggressive" refers to a very specific subset of behavior that is not embodied in the non-hyphenated "passive and aggressive" form. – Hellion Mar 17 '11 at 17:42
@kiamlaluno: passive-aggressive is a compound noun with a specific meaning. The adverb formed from it doesn't split up like that. – user1579 Mar 17 '11 at 17:43
@Rhodri: That is passive-aggressive; I don't think the related adverb passively-aggrassively has been ever used. – kiamlaluno Mar 17 '11 at 17:47
@Rhodri: actually, I don't think it's a noun! – Colin Fine Mar 17 '11 at 17:59
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Given that in other similar formations you only inflect the final word (nobody says something "selfly-conscious", for example), I think "passive-aggressively" is definitely the way to go.

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Ah, there we go. I was having trouble finding a similar word. Is there another word with adjectives on both sides of the hyphen? The only examples I can think of are things like "blue-gray." – MrHen Mar 17 '11 at 17:53
@MrHen: There are plenty where the first adjective applies to the second, though use of the hyphen varies. Small-minded man, double-barrelled name, and upper-class accent might be examples. – Henry Mar 17 '11 at 18:07

Correct or not (and for what it's worth I think you're right), it is pretty horrid. I'd suggest rephrasing to use something more natural.

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Oh, sure. I was mostly curious about the technical aspect of the word. – MrHen Mar 17 '11 at 17:35

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