Compound Nouns

A compound noun is made up of two or more words used together.

Compound nouns can be:

  • One word: shoelace, keyboard, flashlight, applesauce, notebook, bedroom
  • Hyphenated: boy-friend, baby-sitter, editor-in-chief, great-grandfather
  • Two words: police officer, seat belt, high school, word processor, post office
  • More words: one hit wonder

There are three forms for compound nouns:

  1. open or spaced – space between words (tennis shoe)
  2. hyphenated – hyphen between words (six-pack)
  3. closed or solid – no space or hyphen between words (bedroom)

Compound nouns are the same as nouns in grammar.  The rules that apply to ordinary nouns also apply to compound nouns.

A compound noun is singular when it names only one thing or idea, even though it is made up of more than one word.

  • My notebook is full of notes and papers.
  • Housework is boring.
  • The police officer was very helpful.  He made sure I wore a seatbelt.
  • My mother is also a great-grandmother.

Compound nouns can be modified by adjectives and nouns.  You can use other words to change, describe, or give information about compound nouns.

  • yellow schoolbus
  • junior high school
  • fun baby-sitter

Here are some examples of compound nouns:

noun + noun bus stop Is this the bus stop for the number 12 bus?
fire-fly In the tropics you can see fire-flies at night.
football Shall we play football today?
adjective + noun full moon I always feel crazy at full moon.
blackboard Clean the blackboard please.
software I can’t install this software on my PC.
verb(-ing) + noun breakfast We always eat breakfast at 8am.
washing machine Put the clothes in the red washing machine.
swimming pool What a beautiful swimming pool!
noun + verb(-ing) sunrise I like to get up at sunrise.
haircut You need a haircut.
train-spotting His hobby is train-spotting.
verb + preposition check-out Please remember that check-out is at 12 noon.
noun + prepositional phrase mother-in-law My mother-in-law lives with us.
preposition + noun underworld Do you think the police accept money from the underworld?
noun + adjective truckful We need a truckful of bricks.