What is a Compound Noun? Compound Noun Examples

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It is quite likely that you know many compound nouns and use them every day, perhaps even without knowing! But, just what are compound nouns?

I’m a native English speaker, and even I didn’t know what they were until I started to teach English, so, let us take a look.

When two separate words are joined and form a new word that is a noun, it becomes a compound noun. (Compound, the meaning of this word is to join two or more things into one.)

Look carefully at our very first sentence of this post, can you find a compound noun we used there? If you said, without, you are correct, well done! It contains the words with and out.

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Common Compound Nouns

Below are some of the most common compound nouns, their independent forms, and examples of how to use the compound noun. It is not a complete list by no means.

Boyfriend/girlfriend – boy+friend/girl+friend

  • My boyfriend and I are going to the movies tonight.
  • Gemma is my girlfriend.

Policeman/Fireman – Police+man/Fire+man

  • The Policeman rushed to the scene of the crime.
  • A fireman was severely injured in the blazing fire.

Rainfall – Rain+fall

  • We have had a lot of flooding because of the constant rainfall of late.

Haircut – Hair+cut

  • Get your haircut today, please.

Lookout – Look+out

  • We are going up to the lookout on the mountain.

Onlooker – on+looker

  • The onlookers cheered the football team as they ran onto the field.

Overthrow – over+throw

  • The rebels were unable to overthrow the government.

Football – Foot+ball

  • Football is the most popular sport in the world.

Blackboard – black+board

  • The teacher had written his name on the Blackboard before class.

Toothpaste – Tooth+paste

  • Please brush your teeth with Toothpaste.

Breakfast – Break+fast

  • We are going to the Café to have Breakfast.

Sunrise – Sun+rise

  • We got up very early to watch the sunrise.

Sunset – Sun+set

  • The colors in the sky were beautiful because of the sunset.

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Spaced Compound Nouns

Compound nouns are a controversial part of the English language. Some compound nouns are not joined into one word but just placed in a particular word order. If misused within a sentence these words do not typically go together.

Bus Stop

  • I am going to catch the bus at the Bus Stop.

Full Moon

  • It is going to be a Full Moon tonight.

Swimming Pool

  • I have swimming lessons at the local Swimming Pool.

Water tank

  • We collect rain water in our Water Tank.

Fish Tank

  • You have many beautiful fish in your Fish Tank.

Throw up

  • I was so sick last night I thought I was going to throw up what I had eaten earlier.

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Hyphenated Compound Nouns

Hyphenations are another way of creating compound nouns.

 

Dry-cleaning

  • We need to pick up our dry-cleaning before they close tonight.

Mother-in-law/father-in-law/sister-in-law/brother-in-law/son-in-law/daughter-in-law

  • My —in-law is coming to visit us next week.

Check-in

  • While I park the car can you please look after the check-in at the Hotel reception desk.

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Forming Compound Nouns

Compound nouns can be made up of many these types of words and in all of the different combinations.

Adjectives + Adjectives/Prepositions/Nouns/Verbs

Prepositions + Adjectives/Prepositions/Nouns/Verbs

Nouns + Adjectives/Prepositions/Nouns/Verbs

Verb + Adjectives/Prepositions/Nouns/Verbs

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Test your knowledge!

Great, now that you have learned this, test your knowledge and understanding.

Match the following compound nouns to their type.

  1. Football hyphened compound noun
  2. Dry-cleaning spaced compound noun
  3. Fool Moon compound noun

 

There are many other Compound nouns, can you give us an example of one and how to use it in a comment below?

Check out our other fantastic posts on the website too!

 

Test your Knowledge – Answers

  1. C
  2. A
  3. B

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