good-looking, lifeless-looking grandson

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loureed4

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi,

I have just seen this sentence which I´m reading and listening: "....his lifeless-looking grandson lying on the sofa..."

I am a bit confused because the typical thing we are taught in school si: "He was a very good-looking boy"

So, I think you can put any adjetive before looking, can´t you?

I don´t if this is too much to ask, but, Could I have two or three examples like this? I´ll try myself one , in order to see if I catch the idea: "He is a hard-looking guy" , "She is a rough-looking woman" ... I´m guessing that it may be related to the appareance, the physical appareance...

I got amazed right now when I saw: "lifeless-looking guy"

This is a bit rough for me!

Thanks in advance!
 
  • grahamcracker

    Senior Member
    English-TEXAS
    Hi,

    I have just seen this sentence which I´m reading and listening: "....his lifeless-looking grandson lying on the sofa..."

    I am a bit confused because the typical thing we are taught in school si: "He was a very good-looking boy"

    So, I think you can put any adjetive before looking, can´t you?

    I don´t if this is too much to ask, but, Could I have two or three examples like this? I´ll try myself one , in order to see if I catch the idea: "He is a hard-looking guy" , "She is a rough-looking woman" ... I´m guessing that it may be related to the appareance, the physical appareance...

    I got amazed right now when I saw: "lifeless-looking guy"

    This is a bit rough for me!

    Thanks in advance!
    I don't know if you need the dash or not. It is possible that it is optional.

    I'm not sure what you meant by "hard-looking". You can say "he's a tough looking guy", meaning that it is someone you would probably not want to fight. As for "rough looking woman", that sounds okay. It would be a woman who is course and maybe not so feminine (and we are not talking about a lesbian either).

    The adjective would have to make some sense but I suppose, theoretically, you could use any of them.

    "He is an honest looking man."
    "He is an ugly looking fellow."
    "She is a tall looking girl."
    (You probably wouldn't hear it but you could say it.)
    You would probably not hear "He is a fat looking person" but I don't think there is anything wrong with it. You would more likely hear, "He looks fat" or "He is fat."
     
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    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hi Larry!

    Thanks a lot for the examples, I thought it was too much to ask, therefore, I appreciate it a lot, I didn´t know where to find such examples,

    Thanks for your reply Larry!
     

    grahamcracker

    Senior Member
    English-TEXAS
    Hi Larry!

    Thanks a lot for the examples, I thought it was too much to ask, therefore, I appreciate it a lot, I didn´t know where to find such examples,

    Thanks for your reply Larry!
    I thought of another one: "That is a wonderful looking dinner."
     

    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hi again Larry,

    I always see it with hyphens in books, but I´m not a native speaker.

    Thanks again your your time! . I reckon I begin to figure out the whole thing (more or less). I think it´s going to take me a while to use it in my daily English though.
     

    lancer99

    Banned
    English - U.S.
    loureed4, you can also use this construction with other verbs of perception, such as

    "We heard a horrible-sounding noise when the band started to play."
    "That's the worst-tasting meal I've ever eaten."

    GC, apologies for being pedantic, and I know a lot of people don't, but you should use hyphens between words in an adjective unit that proceeds a noun (but not after). For example "a ten-year-old boy" but "a boy who was ten years old." The only exceptions are with -ly and comparatives/superlatives, "a clearly worded example" or " a better explained example." So, "That is a wonderful-looking dinner" is more (formally) correct than "That is a wonderful looking dinner."

    -R
     
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    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hi again,

    -Larry, sorry, I don´t get your point about that sentence in the magazine.

    -Lancer99, thanks a lot, I didn´t know that, wow, I mean, it´s a very good information for me, so, it´s kind of adjetive+hyphen+looking/sounding/tasting...

    I´ll have to study this deeper, I find it a very accurate way to express myself in English, is it formal ? . Because I´m trying to make some interviews for foreing companies, many of those in English.

    A really good piece of information! . Thanks both!
     

    lancer99

    Banned
    English - U.S.
    I think you got it just right!

    This construction isn't formal -- seems fairly neutral, but because it's generally used with verbs of perception, it's probably more appropriate for conversational or literary usage.

    I thought of two more examples:

    (in response to someone telling you about the latest novel they read) "That's an interesting-sounding book." (in this case, because "sound" means the same thing as "seem"....but you can't say "that's an interesting-seeming book" because "seem" isn't a verb of perception).

    One phrase that might be useful in an interview: "Are you a forward-thinking person?" (meaning do you think about the future, do you plan for the future?) In this case, there's no verb of perception -- it's more of a set/stock phrase.

    -R
     

    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hi Lancer99,

    Woow..."forward-thinking person", that just sounds great, and so "interesting-sounding book" . Anyway, I think this is too advance for me to use it in my daily speech, I guess it´s a matter of practise and getting used to this. At least it is not going to sound weird to me anymore.

    I have to practise and find some good example so that I can take in this great piece of information. I really appreciate it, it´s quite quite interesting.

    Thanks again Lancer99!
     
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    lancer99

    Banned
    English - U.S.
    On second thought, I don't think this is limited to verbs of perception. You can say "he's a hard-working man" or "she's a free-spending gal."
     

    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I see Lancer99,

    Thanks for all your help, it´s been really helpful, and a bit difficult for me by the way, hehe.

    Thanks a lot!
     

    Jim2996

    Senior Member
    American English
    I see again that you are an English-learning person—and, I hope, enjoying it.

    In English grammar or punctuation books this topic is called a compound adjective. Hyphens should be used. They are no more optional that the apostrophe in "Bill's book," although people are often sloppy with hyphens and apostrophes. (I realize that some people think that today's sloppiness can make tomorrow's rules.) There is a reason why books and well-edited writing have these hyphens.

    Expect times where you will be a English-learning-but-confused person.

    Yes, there can be compound adjectives made up of more that just two words. Keep an eye out. I'm sure that you will soon find one of these made-up-of-more-than-two-words adjectives. Keep reading and you will find a how-many-words-can-I-cram-into-one-compound-adjective-if-I-really-try-hard-and-refuse-to-stop-until-the-point-is-completly-obvious example.

    I wouldn't describe this use of hyphens as formal. It standard written English. I think that I've demonstrated that standard written English can be bit silly, or, at least, overdone.

    Keep having fun.
     

    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    heheheh, really funny Jim, heheh.

    In movies I see things like those many times, those big adjetives splitted by hyphens, and at first it´s shocking, but then you get used to them, but it´s a very different thing seeing them, than using them. That´s why reading is the easiest part of the lenguage but when it comes to writing or speaking, oh my, I really struggle.

    Can you really say "English-learning-but-confused person" or "English-learning person" ? I mean, even though I´ve seen it in movies (less in book now that I think about it) , it´s quite difficult for me to make up such expressions, such adjetives.

    Your reply has been (was?) very funny, indeed, heheh. I really appreciate your time and help!

    And by the way: As you say, I am really enjoying learning your language, I love it, and I hate it some times, it´s a love-hate relationship (Did I just make up a compound adjetive?) hehe.

    Thanks Jim!
     

    Jim2996

    Senior Member
    American English
    I do believe that you need a sense of humor to learn English. If you approach it as a lot of logical rules that must be followed—well, that is one definition of Hell.

    I just saw on TV an advertisement for an after-the-holiday sale. There is Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer. He is well known, probably the most-well-known reindeer ever.

    In English it is sometimes easier to write this way than to say "a sale that will be after the holiday," or "a reindeer that has a red nose."

    I have three suggestions: First google "compound adjective." This is well-know topic in English, and you will find much discussion and many examples. It's a much larger issue than what adjective can be put before "-looking." It may help to set Google to English as your primary language. Avoid English-as-a-second-language sites; I find most pedantic, simplistic, and, all to often, just wrong—not to mention boring. Second thoughts: I looked at some of the many sites. Some are a good start, but I can remember seeing much better books. Unfortunately, I don't have one at hand. A comprehensive book on English punctuation or style is second only to a good dictionary.

    Second, keep reading. You will encounter them every so often. Notice what you find. Try to get a sense of what is going on rather than searching for rules. They are an option, not a necessity; anything said with a compound adjective before the noun can be expressed after the noun, perhaps with a clause. After all, Spanish gets along quite well without them.

    Third, buy and read a book called Eats, Shoots & Leaves, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. It's well written, informative, and funny. There is more information at Amazon.


    Heard recently, or off the top of my head:
    a not-to-be-missed sale
    a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
    a well-known person
    a little-appreciated person
    a helpful and little-appreciated person
    a little-appreciated and soon-to-be-missed person
    a three-legged stool
    a high-backed chair
    I appreciate your so-glad-to-help response.
    the man's small-breasted wife
    I saw a man eating tiger today [without hyphens it means that there is a man who is eating something, something that is a tiger]
    I saw a man-eating tiger today [I saw a tiger today, one that has been know to eat humans]
    a thirty-three-year-old man
    an all-too-common mistake
    a time-tested solution
    a time-consuming solution
     
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