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									                             Compound Nouns
A compound noun contains two or more words which join together to make a single noun.
Compound nouns can be words written together, words that are hyphenated, or separate
words that go together by meaning.

What Is a Compound Noun?

Most compound nouns contain at least one noun. The other word or words may be an
adjective, preposition, or verb. The second word is almost always the main word, with the first
word modifying it or adding to its meaning.

Compound words, a large group of words to which compound nouns belong, are expressed in
three ways. The closed form has two words that have melded together to make one word, like:
softball, redhead, makeup, and keyboard. Examples of the hyphenated form are: six-pack,
five-year-old, and son-in-law. The open form has the words next to each other, like: post
office, upper class, and attorney general. Sometimes, the hyphen disappears as the word is
more widely used, and it becomes a closed word.

Spelling Rules

There are no hard and fast rules concerning plurals of compound words, especially since some
hyphens are omitted after time. In hyphenated words, usually the “s” goes at the end of the
main word, like daughters-in-law or mayors-elect. Sometimes it is at the end, like in go-
betweens and higher-ups. In the open form, the “s” is added to the main word, like: bills of
fare, assistant secretaries of state, and notaries public.


They normally have two parts. The second part identifies the object or person in question
(man, friend, tank, table, room). The first parttells us what kind of object or person it is, or
what its purpose is (police, boy, water, dining, bed):

        What type / what purpose What or who
        police                        man
        boy                           friend
        water                         tank
        dining                        table
        bed                           room
The two parts may be written in a number of ways :

1. as one word.
Example: policeman, boyfriend

2. as two words joined with a hyphen.
Example: dining-table

3. as two separate words.
Example: fish tank.

There are no clear rules about this - so write the common compounds that you know well as
one word, and the others as two words.

The two parts may be:                   Examples:

                                    water tank
                        noun + noun
                                    printer cartridge
                        noun + verb haircut
                     noun + adverb
                                    washing machine
                        verb + noun driving licence
                                    swimming pool
                     verb + adverb* take-off
                   adjective + noun software
                    adjective + verb
                                        public speaking
                     adverb + noun
                     adverb + verb*

Compound nouns often have a meaning that is different from the two separate words.
Stress is important in pronunciation, as it distinguishes between a compound noun
(e.g. greenhouse) and an adjective with a noun ( house).

In compound nouns, the stress usually falls on the first syllable:

a 'greenhouse = place where we grow plants (compound noun)
a green 'house = house painted green (adjective and noun)
a 'bluebird = type of bird (compound noun)
a blue 'bird = any bird with blue feathers (adjective and noun)

* Many common compound nouns are formed from phrasal verbs (verb + adverb or adverb +

Examples: breakdown, outbreak, outcome, cutback, drive-in, drop-out, feedback, flyover,
hold-up, hangover, outlay, outlet, inlet, makeup, output, set-back, stand-in, takeaway,

In the following link you can find a presentation about compound nouns in technical English
(Universidad Politécnica de Valencia):

List of compound nouns:

aircraft armchair armpit background backlash barnyard baseball bathroom bedtime billboard
bobcat brainstorm breakfast briefcase bulldog buttercup butterfly catfish chairman checkmate
cheesecloth chopstick clockwork copycat countdown courthouse cowboy crackpot crossbeam
crybaby daredevil darkroom daydream dishwasher drainpipe drawbridge drawstring
driftwood driveway drumstick dustpan earache eardrum earphone earring earthquake earthworm
eyeball eyelid eggplant eyebrow firefly fireman fishbowl flashback foolproof fingerprint
footprint gateway grapefruit grasshopper greenhouse hallway heartbeat household iceberg inland
jigsaw keyhole kneecap ladybug landslide marketplace mealtime nightmare
notebook outdoors pancake password quicksand rainbow raincoat railway sailboat
scarecrow seashell tapeworm teardrop teaspoon undermine vineyard waistline wallpaper
workshop worldwide

                       PRACTICE ON COMPOUND NOUNS
    1. You need to construct compound nouns from these words in the box below to fill in
       the gaps in the sentences. Some of the words are used twice, but in a different

      window          reading           seat           pub       day    child           light

             phone            fishing   card          food       work           frame

                                        table          boat
1. I only have coins on me and that's a                      . I will have to see if there is a public
phone in that bar.

2. I want to put a                                           in the car as they say it really makes
toddlers safer while driving.

3. John was furious with the airline company. He sat on that plane for 14 hours and his
                           didn't work. He couldn't even finish that novel he was reading during
the flight. He had to try and sleep.

4. "What type of credit card is that?" "That's not a credit card. That's a
                   . I use it once a week to call my mum back home in New Zealand."

5. All the                                           in this house have to be repainted. Otherwise,
they will rot over the winter and then we may not be able to open the windows in the spring.

6. English restaurants have a terrible reputation, but the
          is very tasty.

7. I worked at night for so long that when I finally started to do some
                   , I found it really strange.

8. A                                         sank off the Spanish coast last night. Both fishermen
were saved by the coast guard.

9. I know that Monday is a holiday for everyone else, but for us it's a normal
          . We have to get this project finished by Wednesday!

10. Why do you have a                                        in the middle of your lounge? I keep
feeling tempted to go up to the bar to order drinks!!

       2. Now use the following words to form compound nouns in these sentences:

             pocket / courts / polar / fairy / gas / pot / safety / human / circuit / account

1. The Russian Arctic is home of the                               bear and many other species.
2. If those two wires touch, the appliance will short-                         and probably go up
in flames.
3. I need to withdraw some money out of my bank                                     .
4. No                             being should have to suffer what these people have suffered.
5. My mum gives me $1 a week as                             money.
6. Please, make coffee and serve it in our new coffee                               .
7. A                             -pin is used for fastening things, especially cloth.
8. The                                     tale princess lived happily ever after.
9. Natural                                 is used for cooking and heating homes in our country.
10. I hate playing on hard tennis                                   - I much prefer grass.

    3. Combine the word on the left with another word in the list to make a compound
       word. Then, give the definition of the compound word:

example: butter + fly / up / corn /

compound word: butterfly

definition: insect with large, colorful wings

1. hand + __________ shake/ fingers/ glove

compound word: _____________________________________

definition: __________________________________________

2. week + __________ ness /end / ly

compound word: _____________________________________

definition: __________________________________________

3. basket + __________ eggs/ ball / straw

compound word: _____________________________________

definition: __________________________________________

4. high + __________ speed / sky / way

compound word: _____________________________________

definition: __________________________________________

5. gold + __________ road / en / fish

compound word: _____________________________________

definition: __________________________________________

6. tea + __________ shirt /pot / warm

compound word: _____________________________________
definition: __________________________________________

7. side + __________ walk / door / house

compound word: _____________________________________

definition: __________________________________________

8. bed + __________ ding /soft / room

compound word: _____________________________________

definition: __________________________________________

9. fire + __________ hot / ing / place

compound word: _____________________________________

definition: __________________________________________

               4.   Write the English compounds in the correct order and spelling:

1. CASE, HEAD - This compound means "a mad person"

2. HORSE, RACE - This compound means " a competition"

3. KNIFE, TABLE - This compound means "a knife used for eating food

4. PEN, BOARD - This compound means "a pen for writing on a classroom white board"

5. LADY, BIRD - This compound means "a black and red insect"

6. HORSE, RACE - This compound means "a horse used for racing"

7. ROOM, STUDY - This compound means "a room where you study"

8. BOOK, SONG - This compound means "a book of songs"

9. UNITED, ORGANISATION, NATIONS - This compound is the name of a famous world


10. OFFICE, WORK - This compound means "work done in an office"
11. YEAR, SIX, OLD, KID - This compound means " a child born 6 years ago"

12. BOARD, KEY - This compound means " a special board with keys used for computing"

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