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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
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@Rhodri: actually, I don't think it's a noun! –  Colin Fine Mar 17 '11 at 17:59
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2 Answers 2

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
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@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
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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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