What are Compound Nouns?
Compound nouns are nouns that are made from two or more words. They are combined to create a new meaning. Each Compound Noun acts as a single unit and can be modified by adjectives and other nouns.
In this combination, we usually find two parts where one is a noun and the other word can be a noun, an adjective, a verb or a preposition. We also find some other combinations. (List is given below)
There are three types of Compound Nouns:
- Open Compound Nouns (with spaces) – air pack, ice cream, root beer, coffee table, fish tank, swimming pool, full moon, roller coaster, bus stop, sleeping bag, first aid, Christmas, tree, Christmas card, bomb squad, case study, death rate, shock wave, street smarts etc.,
- Closed Compound Nouns (without spaces) – airbag, shotgun, housework, eyelid, toothpaste, schoolhouse, bedroom, rollback, restroom, classroom, breakfast, needlepoint, slingshot, deathtrap, eyewitness, fingerprint, pickpocket, wheelchair etc.
- Hyphenated Compound Nouns (with hyphens) – baby-sitter, laughing-gas, father-in-law, four-door, daughter-in-law, six-pack, sister-in-law, passers-by, jack-in-the-box, state-of-the-art, shout-out, mind-set, seven-year-old, backpedaling, by-product, do-gooder, no-brainer, plea-a bargain, self-defense, stretcher-bearer, president-elect, ex-partner, great-grandmother, a two-year-old, self-esteem, step-granddaughter, step-great-granddaughter etc., Click here for more Compound Nouns
How to form Compound Nouns:
As we discussed in the beginning paragraph of this topic, we find two parts in every Compound Noun.
Let us observe these two parts.
The words earth and quake are two different nouns with their own meaning, but when we combine them together they form a new word – earthquake giving us new meaning.
Similarly, the word black is an adjective and board is a noun, but when we combine them together they form a new word – blackboard with a new meaning.
What we find in both these examples is that the first word modifies or describes the second word and when combined with the second word, it tells us what kind of object or person the noun is. And the second part identifies the object or person in question.
The following is a list of Compound Nouns with their different combinations of other words.
|Modifier||Head Word||Compound Noun|
|Noun +||Noun||armchair, air ticket, air hostess, blackboard, blue whale, cellphone, cricket ball, crime novel, door-step, ear-ring, engine driver, family business, field glasses, firefighter, fish tank, football, football, garden flowers, handbag, headteacher, ice-cream, lion -tamer, man-servant, maid-servant, money market, moneylender, moonlight, newspaper oil-lamp, picture book, police officer, postcard, postman, railroad, ring-leader, shoemaker, signpost, sunlight, taxpayer, teaspoon, timetable, toothpaste, trap-door, windmill etc.,|
|Adjective +||Noun||madman, stronghold, nobleman, sweetheart, blackboard, full moon, black eye, blue jeans, hot-dog, shorthand, blackbird, quicksilver, national flag, historical monument, economic data, traditional values etc.,|
|Verb +||Noun||pickpocket, tell-tale, stop-gap, make-shift, spendthrift, breakfast, daredevil, passport, breakwater, swimming pool, cross-road, cookbook, washing machine, jump rope, etc.|
|Noun +||Verb||browbeat, daybreak, toothache, bloodshed, earthquake, root cause, backbite, cloud burst, bee sting, handshake, snowdrop, air dash, tongue slip, bookmark, headline, bus stop, timeline, earmark, monthly pay, tie knot,, house arrest, telephone call, headache, moonlight, sunset, sunrise, haircut, waylay, etc.|
|Noun +||Verb+Ing||blood poisoning, firefighting, crime-fighting, decision making, lifesaving, name-calling, report writing, shoplifting, wife-beating, drug testing, safecracking, whistleblowing, problem-solving, troubleshooting, street–fighting cat walking, slow cycling, air blowing, cross heading, ear piercing, whitewashing, time-consuming, account checking, time-serving, heart-rending, English training, daydreaming, bread baking, heart bleeding, etc.|
|Verb+Ing +||Noun||laughing-stock, skipping-rope, walking stick, swimming pool, washing machine, drinking water, sleeping pill, writing desk, looking glass, stepping-stone, passing cloud, driving school, fishing net, starring hero, sitting bench, glittering jewels, visiting card, cleaning lady, spinning wheel, steering wheel, spelling book, cooking gas, waiting list, helping hand, blotting paper, drawing room, living room, blotting paper, etc.|
|Adverb +||Noun||downtime, overcoat, overload, overdose, overtime, afterthought, postscript, undertone, foresight, downfall, outpatient, upland, offshoot etc.|
|Adverb +||Verb||input, income, intake, output, offspring, upswing, outbreak, outlook, outfit, upstart, outburst, outlet, out-cast, outcome, upkeep, outset, outcry etc.,|
|Verb +||Adverb||tumbledown, takeout, cover-up, backup, blackout, drive-by, show-off, flareup, lineup, sign-out, flashback, lockdown, size-up, breakout, pileup, spin-out, checkout, get-together, standby, cleanup, hangout, runaway, cop-out, hideaway, runoff, washdown, shootout, walkthrough, ripoff, follow-up, wind-up, break-in, knockdown etc.,|
|Preposition +||Noun||underworld, underground, underline, underclass, outlaw, forethought, offspring, offshore, off-day, overcoat, afternoon, inside, inbox, in group, in service, middleman, downfall, downhill, upland, top-hat, inmate, foresight, onlooker, forehead, on line, outpatient, overfed, overweight, byline, bypath, bystander etc.|
|With a letter||Email, H–bomb, T-shirt, U-turn, X chromosome, X-rated, Y-axis, X-ray etc.,|
|Family Titles and Certain other Phrases||sister-in-law, father-in-law, step-great-granddaughter, a free-for-all, a good–for–nothing, a know-it-all, make-believe, hide-and-seek, a pick-me-up, a stick-in-the-mud, a johnny-come-lately, man-of-war, brothers-in-arms, etc.,|
|Rhyming Reduplicatives||pooper-scooper, razzle-dazzle, walkie-talkie, boo-boo, goody-goody, hanky-panky, hocus-pocus, nitty-gritty, no-no etc.,|
How to form plurals of Compound Nouns:
Generally, plural forms of a compound noun are formed by adding -’s’/ or -’es’ to the base or important word. The following list illustrates the singular and plural forms of the Compound Nouns.
|Compound Nouns in Singular||Compound Nouns in Plural|
|Assistant Secretary Of State||Assistant Secretaries Of State|
|Doctor Of Philosophy||Doctors Of Philosophy|
|General Staff||General Staff|
|Heir Apparent||Heirs Apparent|
|Notary Public||Notaries Public|
|Sergeant Major||Sergeants Major|
|Many Stops For Buses||Many Bus Stops|
|150 Trees With Oranges||150 Orange Trees|
How to form possessives of Compound Nouns:
Generally, the possessive form of the Compound Noun is formed by adding -’s’ to the ending word, regardless of whether it is singular or plural. The following list illustrates the Possessive Form in singular and plural of the Compound Nouns.
|Possessive form in Singular||Possessive form in Plural|
|Vice-principal’s duty||Vice-principals’ duty|
|Son-in-law’s marriage||Sons-in-law’s marriage|
|Sergeant Major’s jeep||Sergeants Major’s jeep|
|Attorney-general’s villa||Attorneys-general’ villa|
|Governor-general’s speech||Governors-general’ speech|
|Sister-in-law’s car||Sisters-in-law’s cars|
|Colonel-in-chief’s arrival||Colonels-in-chief’s arrival|
|Maid of honour’s address||Maids of honour’s address|