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.


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


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.

  • You can 'qualify' either sentence and change the meaning of the original ones.
    – user20792
    Nov 13 '15 at 4:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.