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I find some compound adjectives has a -ed suffix, e.g., red-haired, cold-blooded, two-faced, open-minded, light-hearted, etc. In comparison, there are also ones with -ing suffix, such as good-looking, heart-warming, jaw-dropping, mouth-watering, etc.

It appears to me -ed suffix is appended to noun, while -ing is appended to verb. Can someone corroborate?

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    Another way to describe these is that "an adjective has been attached to either a participle or an -ing verb." And you've hit on one important point: you can't make an -ing verb out of a noun! ("hairing"? "blooding"? Though often there are corresponding verbs, like "facing.") You don't ask why some of these would take the one form or the other; I guess it depends whether we're describing a quality or appearance (she has red hair) or an action or effect (it warms our hearts, it makes our jaws drop). Mar 12 at 18:24
  • (Oops—for many of these the first word is a noun, not an adjective. Aside from "good-looking," most of your other "-ing" examples take the form "X-Ying," and mean "having the effect Y on X." While the "X-Yed" form means "having Y that is X.") Mar 12 at 18:26
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    @AndyBonner Actually, most nouns can be turned into verbs. At least that's what the honchose around here say.
    – Lambie
    Mar 12 at 19:21
  • The ing and ed ones come from this: a warm heart, heart-warming x, open mind, open-minded person. There are tons of adjectives with nouns that can become adjective+verb+ed. And some of the ing ones are in the dictionary (good-looking) while others are not;
    – Lambie
    Mar 12 at 19:26

2 Answers 2

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As has been pointed out in comments, the choice between using -ed or -ing for derived adjectives depends on whether the relevant word is a noun or a verb.

Sometimes both forms can be derived from the same word, depending on whether that word is being used as a...

noun (a po-faced guard) - his face looks like a (chamber-pot?)
OR
verb (a south-facing garden) - it faces southwards

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[1] red-haired, cold-blooded, two-faced, open-minded, light-hearted, etc.

[2] good-looking, heart-warming, jaw-dropping, mouth-watering, etc.

In [1], the adjectivalisation involves the addition of the ed suffix to a nominal consisting of a dependent + a head noun to form a de-phrasal adjective. A very productive construction: all those examples are lexicalised.

In [2] the adjectivalisation has the ing suffix attached to a verb to give a verb-centred compound adjective with the active use of a past participle as head and an adjective or noun as first element. All lexicalised.

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