I want to know whether these nouns have the same meaning.

1.large machine like clocks

2.large machine–like clocks

3.large machinelike clocks


These aren't nouns, but noun phrases. However, they all usually mean the same thing: clocks that are large and are like machines. There is another, unusual reading of #1 ("clocks that are like large machines"), but this would be a very uncommon interpretation.

Although in spoken language there would be no distinction between these three uses, in English writing we'd usually write:

large, machine-like clocks

The comma is a convention that divides adjectives in sequence from each other. The hyphen in "machine-like" is because "machine-like" isn't a word we use commonly, but still one that can be produced in English by combining two words together. Thus, we link the smaller words that make it up with a hyphen so you can still see the original words.

  • I would read #1 differently. Clocks are typically small, but someone could be referring to the giant clock mechanisms used in clock towers. #1 would use such a giant mechanism as an example of a large machine (although the singular/plural doesn't match, should be "machines"), and some people would set off "like clocks" with commas. – fixer1234 Jun 10 '17 at 4:26

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