English grammar

Module 1, Nouns, Lesson 6:

Compound Nouns

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English grammar

Definition: 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 Two words Hyphenated
haircut rain forest self-esteem
toothpaste ice cream brother-in-law
Hint:
A compound noun is the sum of its two parts. However, there are some words that aren't compound nouns even though they can be broken up into two words. One example is a compound adjective.
A half-eaten pie
(Half-eaten describes the pie, so it is an adjective, not a noun.)

Two-word proper nouns can also be classified as compound nouns. Remember that proper nouns name specific people, places, and things.

Angkor Wat
Atlantic Ocean
Eiffel Tower
Nelson Mandela
Hint:
Single-word compounds and hyphenated compounds are easy to spot, but two-word compounds can be tricky. Ask yourself, "Would I find both words together as a single entry in the dictionary?" For example, if you compare the phrase cold water with the compound noun ice cream, you can see the difference. In the phrase cold water, cold is an adjective that describes the noun water. However, ice cream is a compound noun because ice is not an adjective describing cream. The two words work together to create a single noun. To check the spelling of a compound noun, look it up in the dictionary.

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.)

Practice What You've Learned

English grammar

Part 1

Directions:
Click on the compound nouns in each sentence. If the compound noun is written as two words, be sure to click on both parts.
1.
We watched the angry blue jays chase each other around the backyard.
2.
My sister-in-law loves to watch football on her wide-screen television.
3.
The lawyer presented the fingerprint as evidence to the grand jury in the courtroom.
4.
For Halloween, we decorate jack-o'-lanterns and hang pictures of witches on broomsticks.
5.
We gathered seashells on the beach below the lighthouse.
6.
Be careful going to the swimming pool. I saw a rattlesnake near the clothesline.
7.
The bystanders near the bus stop saw the accident.
8.
You will need the software in order to install that new keyboard.
9.
My little sister got a jack-in-the-box for her birthday.
10.
My half brother is running for the position of vice president in our club.

Part 2

Directions:
Choose the correct spelling of the compound word.
11.
evergreen ... ever green ... ever-green
12.
drumstick ... drum stick ... drum-stick
13.
firefly ... fire fly ... fire-fly
14.
kneecap ... knee cap ... knee-cap
15.
lighthouse ... light house ... light-house
16.
shellfish ... shell fish ... shell-fish
17.
swimmingpool ... swimming pool ... swimming-pool
18.
busstop ... bus stop ... bus-stop
19.
seaweed ... sea weed ... sea-weed
20.
sixyearold ... six year old ... six-year-old

Part 3

Directions:
Choose the correct plural spelling.
21.
city-states ... cities-state
22.
jack-o'-lanterns ... jacks-o'-lantern
23.
passerbys ... passersby
24.
son-in-laws ... sons-in-law
25.
toothbrushes ... toothsbrushes ... teethbrushes
26.
attorneys at law ... attorney at laws
27.
runner-ups ... runners-up
28.
hand-me-downs ... hands-me-down
29.
gets-together ... get-togethers
30.
workmans ... worksman ... workmen
Score: