Grammar Rules

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.

Write better and fasterGinger helps you write confidently.
Start writing with Ginger

What is a Compound Noun

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.  

Compound Nouns Exercises

Choose the word that makes each of these nouns into a compound noun.

  1. Fund __________ (A – driver, B – seat, C – raiser)
  2. News __________ (A– paper, B – story, C – travels)
  3. Sun ____________ (A– day, B – glasses, C – heat)
  4. Child ___________ (A – hood, B – ren, C – play)
  5. Door ___________ (A– frame, B – handle, C – way)
  6. Answer Key: 1 – C, 2 – A, 3 – B, 4 – A, 5 – C

    Fill in the blanks to complete each compound noun, or with the one-word compound noun that fits best.

  7. Prevent a heart _________ by eating properly and getting enough exercise. (A – stroke, B –attack, C – murmur)
  8. Do you prefer peppermint or cinnamon flavored _____________? (A– cookies, B – toothpaste, C – applesauce)
  9. The full ___________ looked enormous as it rose over the horizon. (A – moon, B – sun, C –sunset)
  10. I’m going to the barber for a _____________. (A – trim, B – new style, C – haircut)
  11. They’re digging a new swimming ____________ in the park. (A – suit, B – pool, C – game)
  12. I’d love to learn to pilot an ____________(A–boat, B – airplane, C – submarine)
  13. One reason donuts are fattening is that they’re fried in cooking _____. (A – oil, B – sugar, C –pans)
  14. Sherrie is upset because she lost an ______________. (A – input, B – earring, C – friendship)
  15. We put a ____________ in the garden to chase birds away.(A – runway, B – sunshade, C –scarecrow)
  16. 15.I’ve got to pick up a package at the post ___________. (A – man, B – office, C – book)
Answer Key: 6 – B, 7 – B, 8 – A, 9 – C, 10 – B, 11 – B, 12 – A, 13 – B, 14 – C, 15 – B