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Consider these sentences

this expression sounds natural

this expression is natural-sounding

I guess both mean exactly the same.

However, I found "sounds natural" is more commonly used than "natural-sounding" on ELL.

Are "sounds natural" and "is natural-sounding" interchangeable in any cases?

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    Sounds is a verb, while natural-sounding is a compound adjective, so they are not directly interchangeable. Mar 18, 2020 at 9:46
  • You shouldn't change your question to invalidate answers that have already been given.
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 19, 2020 at 11:18

2 Answers 2

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Yes, both forms are essentially interchangeable, but ironically sounds natural sounds more natural (is more natural-sounding) than natural-sounding.

I think you will find that this is often the case with hyphenated words - it takes a little more effort to work out the exact semantics as complexity increases, so simpler versions usually sound more natural.

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  • Unfortunately, this answer is incorrect as Kate Bunting first pointed out in a comment on the question.
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 19, 2020 at 2:38
  • @CJDennis Yet both the examples given by the OP, and the example given in my answer are essentially interchangeable, aren't they? Mar 19, 2020 at 9:49
  • "This expression natural sounding" is ungrammatical as is "This expression is sounds natural". The OP changed their question after our answers were given.
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 19, 2020 at 11:17
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Sounds is a verb, while natural-sounding is a compound adjective, so they are not directly interchangeable. – Kate Bunting

For example:

This sentence sounds natural.

This sentence is natural sounding.

This is a natural sounding sentence.

I've emphasised the verbs to highlight the differences between the sentences.

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