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I was wondering according to American English if this is a valid grammatical sentence:

This item is a little use unfriendly.

It sounds ok but I was wondering if "use unfriendly" (I mean without the 'r', not user-unfriendly) could be used as an adjective this way.

P.S. I was wondering if it is grammatical according to British English too.

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Do you mean user-unfriendly? –  Daniel Jan 20 '12 at 14:13
What is the difference in meaning between user-unfiendly and use-unfriendly? –  Daniel Jan 20 '12 at 14:33
As I understand English, use unfriendly is not a grammatical adjective. It doesn't obey the rules of grammar and it doesn't conform to standard usage. –  Daniel Jan 20 '12 at 14:44
...I've just been to the trouble of checking every one of about 100 consecutive occurences of use unfriendly indexed by Google Books. In every single case, it's just the ordinary usage where "use" is a verb. I stand by my closevote. –  FumbleFingers Jan 20 '12 at 15:23
Just to add a point to what others have said: "user-friendly" is a commonly used and accepted term with a well-understood meaning. There is no point in trying to create a new term, "use-friendly", that as far as I can tell from your post would just be synonym for "user-friendly" except that it would be unfamiliar. Don't try to create new words when there's already a perfectly good existing word. And especially in this case, where it's just one letter different, 99.9% of readers would take it as a mistake. –  Jay Jan 20 '12 at 16:12

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

If you mean by "use unfriendly" unfriendly to use, then you need a hyphen, or the sentence is hard to parse and read and ungrammatical. Also, unfriendly to user would be a more conventional way to describe such an item, hence user-unfriendly. The latter would be a better choice semantically and grammatically. Not user-friendly would probably be more popular than user-unfriendly, and this EL&U post gives several more options to replace it, too, if you're still not comfortable using it.

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So you are saying that Kris is (absolutely) wrong? –  Pacerier Jan 20 '12 at 14:50
Yes. I guess s/he must be using a different definition of grammatical. –  Daniel Jan 20 '12 at 14:53
@Danielδ: You have conveniently overlooked the part "I presume you mean user -unfriendly." in my answer. You were talking about use unfriendly instead. –  Kris Jan 20 '12 at 15:04
@Danielδ I don't get it, regardless of style, it's either grammatical or its not right? –  Pacerier Jan 20 '12 at 15:09
@Kris Well, the OP asked whether use unfriendly was grammatical. You began your answer saying "Yes. Grammatically, it would be correct." That's what I am disagreeing with. Yes, the OP did mean user-unfriendly, but that's not what he was asking about. –  Daniel Jan 20 '12 at 15:16

Using a hyphen between user and unfriendly makes it more readable:


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Is a hyphen allowed between use and unfriendly ? : use-unfriendly –  Pacerier Jan 20 '12 at 14:38
@Pacerier, Yes, you can use hyphen or if you like you can use "less user-friendly" as Kris suggested. –  Mustafa Jan 20 '12 at 14:43
@Pacerier, "user-friendly" not "use-friendly" –  Mustafa Jan 20 '12 at 15:33

How about "this item is user-hostile"?

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Grammatically, it would be correct. However, you may want to rephrase it as: This item is a little less user-friendly. [I presume you mean user -unfriendly.]

un·friend·ly/ˌənˈfren(d)lē/ Adjective:
Not friendly: "she shot him an unfriendly glance"; "environmentally unfriendly activities". Synonyms:
hostile - inimical - unkind - adverse - unfavourable

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By your definition of "grammatically correct", it would appear that any combination of noun+adjective is valid. It doesn't even make much sense semantically - how can something be "unfriendly" towards "use"? Is it therefore valid to say short trousers are "winter unfriendly"? ELU is supposed to be concerned with English as she is spoke - which may not be exactly grammatical, but at least that one does occur. –  FumbleFingers Jan 20 '12 at 15:31
@Fumble: You make a good point, but the example 'winter unfriendly' actually does sound OK. Are there examples of noun + adjective that are definitely not allowed? –  Mitch Jan 20 '12 at 15:50
@FumbleFingers: I think you mean, "English as she bees done spoke". :-) –  Jay Jan 20 '12 at 16:07
@FumbleFingers How can something be "unfriendly" towards "use"? The same way something can be "incompatible" with "use". –  MετάEd Jan 20 '12 at 16:58
@MetaEd: You're stretching "meaning" to its limits. Sure, it's semantically and grammatically okay (if a tad mundane) to say a chocolate teapot is incompatible with its use as a vessel for serving hot tea, but would anyone honestly say "This teapot is use-incompatible"? I think you're just being vexatious, to be honest. –  FumbleFingers Jan 20 '12 at 17:37

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