What are compound nouns?

A compound noun is a noun made up of two or more words. Have a look at these examples:

• weekday (noun + noun)

• raincoat (noun + noun)

chopstick (noun + noun)

Compound nouns can be written three ways:

A single word                Two words                 Hyphenated

   haircut                        rain forest         self-esteem

   toothpaste                      ice cream                  brother-in-law

A compound noun can not only be made by adding 2 nouns together, but can be made by adding 2 words together to make one word.

Examples of compound nouns

noun + noun – policeman, motorcycle

noun + verb – sunrise, haircut

verb + noun – breakfast,  rainfall      

adjective + noun – blackboard, software       

adverb + noun – on-looker, downtime

adverb + verb – input, output 

preposition + verb – undercut, downfall

When a compound noun is a single word, make it plural by adding s to the end. If the compound noun is hyphenated or composed of two separate words, remember to add s only to the word that is plural.

One mother-in-law two mothers-in-law

(There are two mothers, not two laws.)

One director general two directors general

(There are two directors, not two generals.)

Exercise 1

Read the paragraph and circle the compound nouns.

 Yesterday in homeroom, Bob and I discussed the spots that are in our high school. we both agreed that our victory in the championship volleyball game was the highlight of the season. Bob also said he couldn’t wait for basketball season to start. He has been practicing lay-up all month. I am looking forward to baseball season. I have played the short spot position for two years. coach Brown told me that I should practice everyday in order to stay in shape. Did you know that coach Brown’s brother-in-law used to play baseball for the Giants? I’m very glad that I moved to Dade county High school so that I could be involved in the sports programs here. Now, I think it is time for me to finish my homework about Abraham Lincoln.

Exercise 2

Match the words in the two columns to make compound nouns.

Pan                           cloth
Flower                       room
Wash                         date
Push                           cake
Fire                             book
Birth                           truck
Note                            pot
Lunch                          ups
Bath                             box

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