What are Compound Nouns

What are Compound Nouns

A noun is a part of speech that identifies a person, place, thing or idea. Sometimes, words can be combined to form a new word. A compound noun is such a word. A compound noun is a noun that is made with two or more words. In this article, we’ll look at compound nouns, their composition, and usage.

Composition of Compound Nouns

A compound noun is a noun that is made up of two or more words. Each word of the noun adds to the meaning of the noun. A compound noun can be made of two nouns, a noun and an adjective, a noun and a verb, etc. Given below are some examples of compound nouns based on their construction.

Noun + Noun

Bus stop, football, bedroom, motorcycle

Adjective + Noun

Whiteboard, hardware, redhead

Verb + Noun

Living room, swimming pool, washing machine, driving license

Noun + Verb

Sunset, haircut, train-spotting

Verb + Preposition

Checkup, checkout

Adjective + Verb

dry-cleaning, public speaking

What are Compound Nouns

Swimming pool

As seen from the above examples, a compound noun is made of two words. The first word describes what kind of object or person it is, or what its purpose is. The second word identifies the object or person.

Compound nouns can be written in three ways. Some compound names are written as one word. These types of compound words are called solid or closed compound nouns.

Ex: bedroom, toothpaste, policeman, motorcycle

Sometimes compound nouns are connected by a hyphen.

Ex: mother-in-law, passer-by, runner-up

Some compound nouns appear as two separate words. These are called as open or spaced compound nouns.

Ex: water tank, bus stop, swimming pool

The difference in usage of open, hyphenated or closed compound nouns depends on different varieties of language as well as different styles of different writers.

Plural Forms of Compound Nouns

When making a compound noun plural, if the noun is considered as a single word, you can simply add a –s- to the end of the word. But if there are two or more words, you have to find the base word (most significant part of the word) and make it plural. For example,

seashell – seashells

bedroom – bedrooms

toothbrush – toothbrushes


mother-in-law – mothers-in-law

director general – directors general

Get-together – Get-togethers

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Now that you know how compound words are formed and used, you should be able to identify the compound nouns used in the following sentences.

They put up a clothesline near the swimming pool.

My mother-in-law wanted me to clean her bedroom.

The little boy picked sea shells on the sea shore.

The bystanders at the bus stop refused to speak at the hearing.

My brother-in-law loves to watch football matches on television.

The attorney at law presented the suspect’s fingerprints as evidence.

Compound nouns in the above sentences include clothesline, swimming pool, mother-in-law, bedroom, seashells, seashore, bystanders, bus stop, brother-in-law, football, attorney at law and fingerprints.

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