I am going to make up four sentences with them below.

  1. These old different-colored (or different color) pencil crayons are very rare and valuable.
  2. The different-colored (or different color) designs of these purses were created by a very famous designer two years ago.
  3. The different-sized (or different size) dolls available in the discount section of the store have the same price tag.
  4. The different-sized (or different size) stainless steel pots are made to satisfy different people's cooking need.

In my sentences, can I use both forms, with and without "ed", interchangeably?


Google can sometimes come in handy when we are undecided which noun phrase to choose from.
I searched using the British English spelling colour(ed) and the American English variant i.e. color(ed). I opted for hair because that seemed to give the best results.

"different coloured" hair

"different colour" hair

"different colored" hair

881,000 results for "different color" hair

"different color" hair

This looks to be the winner, but if we search through Google Books we find that the noun phrase is often split

  • The hair is a different color because of changes in the chemical structure of both the dye and the hair.
  • Many girls wonder what they would look like with their hair a different color.

So lets force Google Books to give us results for "different color hair" closed in quotes

  • Some have different color hair, skin, eyes, and abilities.
  • Yet, with different color hair and with the Polaroid being so indistinct, there was no way that she could be recognized yet
  • And he doesn't look like them: he's got different color hair, different color eyes.
  • Well, in principle, that's no different than asking how children with different color hair (i.e., blond, brunette, brown, red) can come from the same parents who both have black hair.

Google books produced the following usages of "different colored hair"

  • We all have different colored eyes, different colored hair, different colored skin, and we have the most wonderful family.

  • Despite different colored hair, ethnicity and ages, the dancers had the same lines etched intheir faces from,too many parties, two much alcohol and excessive experimentation with recreational drugs.

  • Or the Wealthy Cattle Farmer who entertained a new girl with different-colored hair every Friday night.
  • There are different prices for different colored hair. (The 1913 newspaper article was referring to hog hair)


As far as different color (pencil crayons) vs different coloured (pencil crayons) is concerned, either form is acceptable. I would use the hyphen because the adjectives old and different color(ed) modify pencil crayons which is made up of two nouns, if the adjectives were only two I might leave well alone. Compare

  • These old different-colored pencil crayons (det + adj + adj+adj + noun + noun)
  • These old coloured pencil crayons. (det + adj + adj + noun + noun)
  • These different coloured pencils (det + adj + adj + noun)

IMO, the best way to write different + size in sentence 4 is different-sized, with a hyphen and the suffix -ed, as it helps readers to understand the text more easily. But i suppose you could argue it is only a stylistic reason, not a grammatical exigence.

(det + adj + adj + adj + noun + noun)

  • The different-sized stainless steel pots
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  • Thank you very much for your time and your detailed explanation. – davidtrinh Jan 10 '17 at 20:30
  • @davidtrinh thank you! I do hope this short answer was helpful. – Mari-Lou A Jan 10 '17 at 21:22

(1a) These old differently colored pencil crayons are very rare and valuable.

(1b) These old pencil crayons of different (various?) colors are very rare and valuable.

(1c) Different (Various?) colors of old pencil crayons are very rare and valuable.

You may want to see the article here about hyphens (especially between an adverb and an adjective) and the article here about compound adjectives.

By the way, I personally would use "various" because "different" begs the question, "Different from what?" while "various" answers the question, "Different from itself."

Did you need your other examples modified for you, too, or will you be able to extrapolate from here?

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