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What is the difference between these two sentences below in terms of semantics or for that matter any other aspects?

He is a hard-working man.
He is a man who works very hard.

Is the distinction simply a matter of style? If not, what differences do they have in respect of giving information about the noun they modify?
To be more specific, I asked this question because I sometimes can't decide whether to use a relative clause or an adjective-like phrase to modify a noun.

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Both convey the same information, though in my experience, the first sentence would be the way that idea would be more commonly phrased.

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  • I'd agree, that stylistically the adjective-like phrase is a lot more common. It evokes a sense of an archetype of the thing. Phrases like "hard-working man" or "fast-driving" car really bring to mind a certain image of the thing being described. Whereas using a relative clause puts more emphasis on the subject (the man in this case), and its relationship to the description is less tightly coupled. When I hear "hard-working man" there's a picture in my mind of what/who that is that isn't there when I hear "a man who works very hard" even though the meaning is basically the same in each phrase.
    – roms
    Sep 22, 2021 at 18:49
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He is a hard-working man.

This sentence describes the man himself. Hard-working is an adjective phrase. I would expect the man always works hard because it is a description of the man himself.

He is a man who works very hard.

This sentence describes how he works. 'Very hard' is an adverb phrase. Because the phrase is an adverb it could be qualified like, "He is a man who works very hard one day a year." or "He is a man who works very hard at avoiding work."

While they are similar, they are not the same.

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    You can 'qualify' either sentence and change the meaning of the original ones.
    – user20792
    Nov 13, 2015 at 4:06

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