Grammar Time: How to Form Compound Adjectives with Numbers

Let’s revise how to form compound adjectives with numbers.

Exam in Mind Level B1/B2

A compound adjective is an adjective that contains two or more words. The adjective with two words joined by the hyphen is called a compound adjective.

  • Our office is in a twenty-storey building.
  • I have just finished reading a 300-page book.
  • I have a part-time job.
  • He is a well-known actor.
  • The hospital uses state-of-the-art equipment.

In these examples, there are hyphens in between the words that make up the compound adjectives. This is often the case when the adjective goes before the noun it describes. These hyphens show that these words are working together as one unit.

Compound Adjectives with Numbers

Number + (hyphen) – + Singular Noun

  • a building with 6 floors → a six-floor building
  • a note of 50 euros → a fifty-euro note
  • a drive that lasts 20 minutes → a twenty-minute drive
  • a walk that takes 5 minutes → a five-minute walk
  • a flight that lasts 10 hours → a ten-hour flight
  • a delay of 2 hours → a two-hour delay
  • a spreadsheet with 25 columns → a twenty-five-column spreadsheet
  • a teenager who is 15 years old → a fifteen-year-old teenager

When you want to make a compound adjective out of a number and a noun use the singular form of the noun and connect the words with a hyphen (-). If the number is less than 10, write out the number (five-star hotel). If the number is 10 or greater, it’s better to use the numeral (a 12-hour shift).

Have practice in using compound adjectives with numbers.

Task 1. Rewrite the following sentences using compound adjectives, according to the examples of the adjectives referring to:

  • age: a three-year-old building
  • -volume: a two-litre car
  • -length: a twelve-inch ruler
  • -price: a fifty-dollar dress
  • -weight: a five-kilo bag
  • -area: a twenty-acre farm
  • -duration: a four-hour meeting
  • -depth: a six-foot hole
  • -time/distance: a ten-minute walk
  1. The office-block costs two million pounds. It’s a two-million-pound office -block.

  2. The woman is seventy years old. She is ______.

  3. The conference lasts two days. It’s ______.

  4. The farm is eighty hectares. It’s ______.

  5. The journey takes three days. It’s ______.

  6. The bag weighs five kilos. It’s ______.

  7. The fence is twenty miles. It’s ______.

  8. My engine is three litres. It’s ______.

  9. It’s a note for fifty pounds. It’s ______.

  10. The tunnel is seventy kilometres. It’s ______.

Task 2. A field which is fifty acres in extent is a fifty-acre field. Make similar compound adjectives from the following:

  1. a programme which lasts half an hour is a _______ programme;

  2. a drive which takes five hours is a_____ drive;

  3. a lorry which can carry 15 tons is a _____ lorry;

  4. a flight which lasts 3 1/2 hours is a_____ flight;

  5. a ruler which measures up to twelve inches is a ______ ruler;

  6. an engine with a capacity of 3 1/2 litres is a _____ engine;

  7. a child which is five years old is a_____ child;

  8. a man whose height is six feet is a____ man;

  9. a walk which covers eight miles is a_____ walk;

  10. a tank with a capacity of 16 gallons is a_____ tank;

  11. a 300mm telephoto lens is a _____ telephoto lens;

  12. a **** hotel is a ______ hotel;

Task 3. A castle which was built in the fourteenth century is a fourteenth-century castle. Make similar compound adjectives with the following:

  1. a student who is in his second year is a _____ student;

  2. a flat on the third floor is a_____ flat;

  3. a computer which is of the second generation is a _____ computer;

  4. a decision made at the last minute is a ______decision;

  5. an excellent meal is a ______-class meal;

  6. a very poor production is a ______-rate production;