Nigel J. Ross

Double-Barrelled Adjectives

This article looks at a sticky area of language for teachers and learners alike - adjectival expressions made up of two (or sometimes more) words, usually linked by hyphens ('double-barrelled' being a classic example). Such double-barrelled adjectives are becoming more and more common in the language, yet little time is usually devoted to them in coursebooks, grammar books or in the classroom. A sample of around 400 examples is analysed from a grammatical point of view, though the full and rather complex results prove not to be particularly meaningful in the teaching context. On the other hand, a short series of handy grammar points can be identified and are worth pointing out to students. An analysis of common elements, usage points and aspects of punctuation completes the survey of these modifying compounds. Lastly, a section on teaching approaches puts forward some ideas and situations where these expressions can be exploited in the classroom.

published in Modern English Teacher (Vol. 6/3, October 1997), Modern English Publications, Basingstoke, UK.

   full article available online: Double-Barrelled Adjectives

Publisher's details

Modern English Teacher
(editor: Thérèse Tobin)
Pearson Education Ltd., distributed by Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Modern English Teacher, PO Box 5141, London W4 2WQ, England
website: Online MET




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