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"The Duchess is a free(-)natured woman."

In the above sentence is there a nominal compound? Can we write "a free-natured woman" using a hyphen?

Are nominal compound and compound adjectives the same thing, and where is a hyphen appropriate?

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In the above sentence is there a nominal compound?

Not really. You could argue that "free-natured woman" was a compound of the adjectival compound "free-natured" and the noun "woman", but we don't normally consider such combinations of adjectives and nouns compounds unless the begin to have a meaning of their own other than what we can understand considering the adjective and noun individually. So that noun phrase isn't really a compound, and hence isn't really a nominal compound.

"Free-natured" is a compound, but it isn't a noun, so it isn't nominal.

Can we write "a free-natured woman" using a hyphen?

Yes. Indeed, I'd recommend you hyphenate adjectival phrases composed of two adjectives to make it clearer that the adjectival compound is a compound, and the noun-phrase it is part of is not.

Are nominal compound and compound adjectives the same thing,

No. Some people use nominal compound to mean a compound where the result is a noun. Some people only use nominal compound to mean a compound of two nouns, where the result is a noun.

Hence there is no overlap with compound adjectives.

and where is a hyphen appropriate?

This is a very big topic, because there are lots of cases where hyphens are always, usually or sometimes used along with a good few where people might use them but they are generally considered wrong. There's also considerable differences between styles.

Reading answers to questions with they hyphen tag is a good place to start.

When it comes to an adjectival compound formed from two adjectives, I would normally advise that you hyphenate, if in doubt, but there are exceptions.

  • actually i want to know with example the deference between "nominal compound" and compound adjective.could you please help me ! – zafor ahmed May 30 '14 at 18:18
  • As I said about "Some people use nominal compound to mean a compound where the result is a noun. Some people only use nominal compound to mean a compound of two nouns, where the result is a noun.". Meanwhile a compound adjective is a compound where the result acts as an adjective. – Jon Hanna May 30 '14 at 18:35

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