+0
What is the rule when it comes to using either the present or past participle in two word adjectives?

adjective\adverb + past participle:
well-built
hard-boiled
badly-desinged

adjective\adverb + present participle:
good-looking
foul-smelling
easy-going

When do we use which?
+0
AnonymousWhat is the rule when it comes to using either the present or past participle in two word adjectives?
There is no rule. Those are fixed forms. If you pick them apart by reversing the word order, they may make more sense to you.

well-built - it is built well
hard-boiled - it is boiled (until it is) hard [This one may be used metaphorically of people.]
badly-designed - it is designed badly
good-looking - it looks good
foul-smelling - it smells foul
easy-going - he/she "goes easy" [This one is inherently metaphoric.]

The words 'present' and 'past' as applied to participles have often been spoken of as misnomers, by the way, and justly so. They are actually active and passive participles. Note that the first three of your examples are related to passive constructions and the last three are related to active constructions.

CJ
+0
CalifJimThe words 'present' and 'past' as applied to participles have often been spoken of as misnomers, by the way, and justly so. They are actually active and passive participles. Note that the first three of your examples are related to passive constructions and the last three are related to active constructions.
Excellent point!
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Comments  
It depends on the time of the verb action:

well-built-- the building happened before, and this is the result.

hard-boiled-- the boiling happened before, and this is the result.
badly-designed-- the designing happened before, and this is the result.

good-looking-- the present look

foul-smelling--the present smell

easy-going-- the present going
Anonymous What is the rule when it comes to using either the present or past participle in two word adjectives?adjective\adverb + past participle:well-builthard-boiledbadly-desingedadjective\adverb + present participle:good-lookingfoul-smellingeasy-goingWhen do we use which?
number noun modifier noun
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
 Philip's reply was promoted to an answer.
PhilipExcellent point!
Thank you. Emotion: bow

Emotion: big smile
CJ