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Compound Nouns

What are compound nouns? Here, we’ll take an up-close look at compound nouns so you can recognize them when you see them, plus we’ll provide you with some compound noun examples that will help you use them effectively.

Compound Nouns

Compound nouns are words for people, animals, places, things, or ideas, made up of two or more words. Most compound nouns are made with nouns that have been modified by adjectives or other nouns.

In many compound nouns, the first word describes or modifies the second word, giving us insight into what kind of thing an item is, or providing us with clues about the item’s purpose. The second word usually identifies the item.

Compound nouns are sometimes one word, like toothpaste, haircut, or bedroom. These are often referred to as closed or solid compound nouns.

Sometimes compound nouns are connected with a hyphen: dry-cleaning, daughter-in-law, and well-being are some examples of hyphenated compound nouns.

Sometimes compound nouns appear as two separate words: full moon, Christmas tree, and swimming pool are some examples of compound nouns that are formed with two separate words. These are often referred to as open or spaced compound nouns.

Compound Noun Examples

The more you read and write, the more compound noun examples you’ll encounter. The following sentences are just a few examples of compound nouns. Compound noun examples have been italicized for easy identification.

Compound nouns can be made with two nouns:

Let’s just wait at this bus stop.

I love watching fireflies on warm summer nights.

While you’re at the store, please pick up some toothpaste, a six-pack of ginger ale, and some egg rolls.

Compound nouns can be made with an adjective and a noun:

Let’s watch the full moon come up over the mountain.

Please erase the blackboard for me.

Compound nouns can be made with a verb and a noun:

Be sure to add bleach to the washing machine.

Let’s be sure to stay somewhere with a swimming pool.

Compound nouns can be made with a noun and a verb:

He always gets up before sunrise.

I really could use an updated hairstyle.

Compound nouns can be made with a verb and a preposition:

Checkout is at noon.

Please remember to schedule your dog’s annual check-up.

Compound nouns can be made with a noun and a prepositional phrase:

My mother-in-law is the kindest person I know.

Compound nouns can be made with a preposition and a noun:

Do you believe in past lives?

This city is vibrant, so it’s hard to believe it has a thriving criminal underworld.

Compound nouns can be made with a noun and an adjective:

We need a truckful of mulch for the garden.