Compound Nouns

compound nouns

What is a Compound Noun?

A compound noun is a noun that is made up of two or more separate words (although usually made of just two).

 

house + plant = houseplant

 

Although we can often form these using nouns, there are many methods of construction. You will also notice that compound nouns can be made up of either a single word (closed form), a hyphenated word (hyphenated form) or two separate words (open form): 

 

adjective + noun = greenhouse
adjective + verb = broadcast
adverb + noun = bystander
adverb + verb = input
noun + adverb = hanger-on
noun + noun = bathroom
noun + verb = ring toss
verb + adverb = lookout
verb + noun = rattle snake

 

Pronunciation

As you may already know, each word in English has a preferred stress. The stress is the part of the word that usually has more emphasis than the rest of the word.

 

computer = comPUtar

football = FOOTball

reply = rePLY

 

With regards to pronunciation, we treat the whole compound noun as a single word and usually put the stress on the first syllable.

 

MOtor + CYcle = MOtorcycle
PUBlic + SPEAKing = PUBlic speaking
SCHOOL + TEAcher = SCHOOL teacher

 

There is good reason to put the stress in the right place. It allows us to express ourself clearly and without confusion. Here is an example of what happens when we don’t alter the stress in the word:

(stress the same on both words) I’m going to the white house. = I’m going to a house that is white.

 

 

(stress on the first syllable) I’m going to the white house. = I’m going to where the president of the USA lives.

 

Closed Form List

  • takeout
  • notebook
  • overthrow
  • shoelace
  • haircut
  • blackboard
  • toothpaste
  • snowfall
  • keyboard
  • secondhand

 

Hyphenated Form List

  • long-term
  • take-off
  • check-up
  • mother-in-law
  • jack-in-the-box
  • well-being
  • has-been
  • vice-president
  • go-between
  • merry-go-round

 

Open Form List

  • hot dog
  • swimming pool
  • dinner table
  • mobile phone
  • washing machine
  • top hat
  • fish tank
  • sweet tooth
  • post office
  • full moon

 

 

Compound Nouns Quiz

See what you can remember from the article with this quiz below!

What is a compound noun?
Which is a compound noun?
What are the names of the 3 forms of compound noun?
White House
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passer-by
Where do we grow plants?
What do we use to make phone calls?
Who is the mother of my wife?
The stress of a compound noun usually…
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Compound Nouns
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