compound adjectives with participles


Some compound adjectives use the present participle and others use the past participle: award-winning movie, shop-worn tools, etc. Does anyone know why it is an award-winning movie, not an award-won movie, when the adjective suggests that the movie 'won' the award?  

asked Jan 21 '14 at 02:50 claudia New member

3 answers


Both "winning" and "worn" are adjectives.  Winning can be the gerund form of winWorn can be the past participle of wear.  But both of them are also adjectives that stand all on their own.  The reason we say award-winning movie and shop-worn tools has nothing to do with past or present tense.

link comment answered Jan 22 '14 at 10:45 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

The reason is because in the example "award-winning movie", the award is taking an active role, that is to say, the movie HAS WON the award. Note that "movie" is the subject.


In the second example "shop-worn tools", the tools HAVE BEEN worn down by the shop. Since this is in the passive voice, and the shop is the agent and the tools are the object, we use the past particple of "wear".


Other examples include "fire-breathing performer", "chocolate-dipped strawberries", "energy-saving vehicle", "nationally-recognized doctor".

link comment answered Oct 14 at 06:41 Ken New member

award-winning movie---> Here award-winning is a compound adjective and movie is a noun.

It is not "award-won movie" because "won" is a past form of the verb. Award is a  noun and also a verb. Won is the past form. So  a noun and past form of the verb cannot function as an adjective. 

link answered Jan 22 '14 at 08:23 Sanjay Expert

"a noun and past form of the verb cannot function as an adjective. "

This is simply not true. Consider the counter example: "chocolate-dipped strawberries" or even the example directly in the question "show-worn tools"

Ken kschoonover@gmail.comOct 14 at 06:35

that should say "shop-worn tools"

Ken kschoonover@gmail.comOct 14 at 06:35

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