A compound noun consists of two or more words that act as a singular noun.
All compound nouns contain at least one main word, which is usually the last in such combination and in most cases is a noun:
- table tennis, playground, school bag, haircut, dishwasher, toothpaste, swimming pool
- We need to go to the bus stop. (noun + noun)
- Take a look at the whiteboard. (adjective + noun)
- The historic city centre is reachable by underground. (preposition + noun)
Here’s a great video from Shaw English to help you get started with compound nouns:
How to form compound nouns
Compound nouns can be formed in three different ways:
– two words melded together to make one word:
- Jennifer needs some time to fix her makeup.
- Michael likes playing football.
- I need a new toothbrush for my trip.
– separate words next to each other:
- To receive your parcel you should contact your local post office.
- Kids have been playing in the swimming pool all day long.
- Please put the plates on the kitchen table, I will wash them later.
– hyphenated words:
- This coat is not suitable for dry-cleaning.
- All visitors are invited to the hotel reception for check-in.
- There are two six-packs of beer in my fridge.
How to form plural forms of compound nouns
Plural forms of compound nouns are created by making the final noun plural:
- Babysitter → Good babysitters always have reference letters from their clients.
- Haircut → Some haircuts can make your face look thinner.
- Cycle race → Nick took part in many cycle races.
Note: In general we make the plural of a compound noun by adding -s to the ‘base word‘ (the most ‘significant’ word):
– mother-in-law → mothers-in-law
– passer-by → passers-by
Some compound nouns have no obvious base word and you may need to consult a dictionary to find the plural:
– grown-up → grown-ups
– good-for-nothing → good-for-nothings