A compound noun is a noun made up of two or more words. Each word makes up part of the meaning of the noun.
Compound nouns can be written three ways:
A single word:
Rain forest Ice cream
Single-word compound and hyphenated compounds are easy to spot. Two-word compounds can be tricky. Often they can be confused with adjectives describing nouns. Ask yourself, "Would I find that word in the dictionary?" For example, cold water is water that is cold. Ice cream is not cream that is ice. To check the spelling of a compound noun, check the dictionary.
Proper nouns such as names and places can also be classified as compound nouns.
A compound noun is the sum of its two parts. Just because you can divide a word into two other words doesn't make it compound.
When making a compound noun plural, if the noun is one word, add s to the end. If it is two words or hyphenated, add s to the part that is plural, not the whole noun.
one director general ... two directors general (there are two directors, not two generals)
one mother-in-law ... two mothers-in-law (there are two mothers, not two laws)
Practice What You've Learned
Click on the compound nouns in the sentences. If the compound nouns are written as two words, make sure you click on both parts.