What is Compound Noun? (with examples) | Best English Guide 2022

What is Compound Noun?

Compound Noun is a type of noun in which two or more words are combined to give a specific meaning to a thing, place, etc. For example toothpaste, raincoat, bus stop, keyboard, mouse pad, bookshelf, face cream, army tank, cowboy, six-pack, etc.

Mostly in Compound Nouns (words), the first word always describes (refers or indicates) the second word and the second word gives the main idea or purpose.

For example, consider the word “toothbrush” –> (tooth + brush).

Here you can observe that the first word “tooth” describing the second word that it is something related to the teeth and the second word “brush” gives the clear purpose or idea.

The same thing goes for the toothpaste also –> (tooth + paste).

Also Read: Noun Definition and Examples | Best English Guide 2021

Types of Compound Noun

Usually, Compound Noun is categorised into three types. Those are,

  • Closed (or) solid (or) single word — no spaces and hyphens.
  • Open (or) spaced (or) two word — Only spaces and no hyphens.
  • Hyphenated words — Only hyphens and no spaces.

Closed/Solid/Single Words

The words which don’t have any spaces or hyphens between them are called as “Closed Word”. Examples are suitcase, crosswords, smartphone, keyboard, haircut, toothbrush, helipad, etc.

You can observe that the above given words doesn’t have any spaces and hyphens between them.

Open/Spaced/two words

The words which have spaces but don’t have hyphens between them are called “Open Words”. Examples are School bell, post office, formal shoes, speed breaker, ice cream, plastic bag, etc.

Since these words doesn’t have hyphens but have space between them.

Hyphenated Words

The words which have hyphens between them are called as “Hyphenated Word” (simply called as “hyphen words”). These words don’t have spaces between them because hyphens are used in the spaces.

Examples are son-in-law, t-shirt, mother-in-law, e-mail, up-to-date, co-operation, good-looking, etc.

Rules of Compound Noun

The combined words which are used in Compound Noun can have various types of forms (parts of speech) like,

  • noun + noun
  • adjective + noun
  • verb (-ing) + noun
  • verb + preposition
  • noun + prepositional phase
  • preposition + noun
  • noun + adjective
POS 1+ POS 2Example
nounnounraincoat
adjectivenounsmartphone
verbnounrunning shoes
verbprepositioncheck-out
nounprepositional phraseson-in-law
prepositionnoununderground
nounadjectivesuccessful

Plural Forms of Compound Noun

Usually, Compound Noun have two forms. That is Singular Compound Noun and Plural Compound Noun.

Singular Compound Noun refers to a thing, place, etc., whereas Plural Compound Noun refers to more than one things, places, etc.

Now let us see the examples of these forms given in the table below.

Singular Compound NounPlural Compound Noun
bus stopbus stops
ice creamice creams
paper clippaper clips
waterfallwaterfalls
movie ticketmovie tickets
radio waveradio waves
formal shoeformal shoes
bookshelfbookshelves
banana leafbanana leaves
butterflybutterflies
brother-in-lawbrothers-in-law
father-in-lawfathers-in-law

Some important points that you need to remember:

  • If you want to make a word Plural, then you need to add “-s” to the base word (mostly the second word).
  • If the words are ending with -s, -ss, -ch, -x, -f, and -o, then you need to add “-es” to the base word.
  • For hyphenated words, you need to add “-s” to the base word. Don’t get confused for some words like father-in-law, mother-in-law, etc because their plurals are fathers-in-law and mothers-in-law.

Example Statement:

  • Incorrect: Two of my mother-in-laws stays at my house. (There are two mothers, not two laws)
  • Correct: Two of my mothers-in-law stays at my house.
  • If the words of the Compound Noun are in the form of Noun+adjective, then you can add “-s” or “-es” to noun or adjective as per the usage.

For example consider the below table.

Singular FormPF (Noun)(or)PF (Adj)
glassfulglassesful orglassfuls
spoonfulspoonsfulorspoonfuls
handfulhandsfulorhandfuls
bucketfulbucketsfulorbucketfuls

So, you can see that Plural form for hyphenated words can be used in both ways. You can consider plural form of noun or adjective because both of them are acceptable.

But we recommend you to use only one type of words (your choice – either plural form of noun or adjective) for the entire sentence or paragraphs.

Quiz Time! (Test your knowledge here)

#1. Which of the following is not a Closed word?

Answer: Speed breaker is not a closed word.

#2. What is the Plural form of Sunglass?

Answer: Sunglasses.

#3. Identify and select the wrong open word.

Answer: Basketball is not an open word.

#4. Plural Form of Red Rose is?

Answer: Red Roses.

#5. Is dryleaf a Compound Noun?

Answer: Yes.

#6. Solid words are also called as ___________.

Answer: Solid words are also called as Single words.

#7. What is the Plural form of Petrol car?

Answer: Petrol cars

#8. What is the Singular Form of dry leaves?

Answer: dry leaf

#9. The words which have spaces but don’t have hyphens between them are called?

Answer: Open words.

#10. Compound Noun is a combination of ___________.

Answer: Compound Noun is a combination of words.

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Summary: (What is Compound Noun?)

What is Compound Noun?
(What is Compound Noun?)
  • The combined words which represents a thing, animal, etc are called Compound Noun. Examples are paperclips, colour pencil, electric wire, cold drinks, etc.
  • The Compound Nouns are classified into three types. Those are Closed words, Open words and hyphened words.
  • The Compound Noun can have both Singular and Plural forms.

If you are interested to learn more, then you can refer from wikipedia by clicking here.

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