Mastering Compound Nouns: Key Definitions & Examples

Mastering Compound Nouns: Key Definitions & Examples

What are Compound Nouns?

Compound nouns are nouns that are formed by combining two or more words to create a new word with a specific meaning. These words can be combined in various ways, and the resulting compound noun typically has a meaning that is more specific than the individual words alone.


  • She bought a beautiful necklace for the party.
  • The cat knocked over the flowerpot on the windowsill.
  • The kids built a fantastic sandcastle at the beach.
  • We took a refreshing swim in the pool.
  • The chef prepared a delicious three-course dinner.

Types of Compound noun

Closed Form:
The words are joined together without any spaces or hyphens.

    • Examples:
      toothpaste, basketball, mailbox, keyboard, bedroom, notebook

Hyphenated Form:
The words are joined together with hyphens.

    • Examples:
      mother-in-law, well-being, six-pack, daughter-in-law, check-in, merry-go-round

Open Form:
The words are written separately but are understood to be one concept.

    • Examples:
      post office, real estate, high school, coffee table, bus stop, full moon

Characteristics of Compound Nouns

  • Meaning:
    The meaning of a compound noun is often more specific than the meanings of the individual words that form it. For example, toothbrush is a brush used for cleaning teeth, which is a more specific meaning than the words ‘tooth’ and ‘brush’ on their own.
  • Stress:
    In English, compound nouns often have a primary stress on the first word. For example, GREENHouse (a place for growing plants) is stressed on green, whereas ‘green HOUSE’ (a house that is green) has a different meaning and stress pattern.
  • Formation:
    Compound nouns can be formed from various combinations of words, including:

    • Noun + Noun: toothpaste, snowman
    • Adjective + Noun: greenhouse, blackboard
    • Verb + Noun: washing machine, swimming pool
    • Noun + Verb: sunrise, haircut

Compound Noun Examples:

  • toothbrush
  • basketball
  • mother-in-law
  • post office
  • greenhouse
  • washing machine
  • haircut
  • notebook
  • coffee table
  • full moon

Mastering Compound Nouns: Key Definitions & Examples

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