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1. Our dog needs a pet-friendly place to stay.

2. Our dog needs a perfectly friendly place to stay.

3. Our dog needs a friendly-looking place to stay.

4. Our dog needs a large, friendly and comfortable place to stay.

From skimming through grammar websites, I believe the punctuation (including hyphens) above are correct on all accounts. However, I'm confused as to why "friendly-looking" is hyphenated. If the word, "looking" isn't a noun, then wouldn't that make "friendly" an adverb in that case? And since adverbs don't necessitate hyphens (e.g. sentence #2) why does "friendly-looking" get a hyphen? Or does "friendly looking" not get a hyphen?

Thank you for any help on this.

Original Post
@Gary C123 posted:

I'm confused as to why "friendly-looking" is hyphenated. If the word, "looking" isn't a noun, then wouldn't that make "friendly" an adverb in that case?

Hi, Gary,

Hyphenation is typical of compounds. In the case of adverbs preceding adjectives, the adverb modifies the adjective — they do not form a compound word, but a phrase, as in extremely friendly.

In compound words, the components lose their independence to form a new lexical unit, and this is marked by a hyphen. While "extremely friendly" is an adjective phrase, "friendly-looking" is a compound adjective. This compounding mechanism is recorded by Quirk and Greenbaum in "A University Grammar of English," where in Appendix I - Word Formation, under Adjective compounds I.40, we can read that compound adjectives can be formed by an adjective or an adverb followed by -ing participle: hard-working, easy-going, good-looking. Unlike "friendly" in "extremely friendly," "working," "going" and "looking" cannot stand alone in the compound words above and need to be joined by a hyphen to the preceding adverb or adjective to form a word.

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