Compound nouns - build up your vocabulary fast

How many English words do you already know? Today we will tell you how to double your vocabulary using compound nouns - having memorized one such word, 2 new ones appear in your vocabulary at once! How is this possible?

Compound noun (complex noun) is a noun that consists of two words, where the first word denotes the characteristic of the object (black), and the second (board) - the object itself. When combined, we get a word with a completely new meaning.

While I was cooking a hot dog for the breakfast, James mashed the toothpaste into the keyboard.

There are 4 compound nouns in this sentence, consider them:

  • a hot dog = hot + dog
  • the breakfast  = break + fast
  • the toothpaste = tooth + paste
  • keyboard = key + board

From the examples we can see that each part of a compound noun necessarily has its own meaning, which changes when a compound noun is created.

  • How are complex nouns formed?

We can combine parts of a complex noun in 3 ways by placing between words:

  1. Space - such combinations are usually made up of longer words with 2-3 syllables. For example, distance learning, player piano, lawn tennis.
  2. Hyphen - we combine two or more shorter words, which often contain articles, prepositions or conjunctions. For example, six-pack, five-year-old, and son-in-law.
  3. Nothing! We simply combine two words into one - usually these are stable expressions that have appeared in the language for a long time and have been fixed in their writing. For example, housewife, wallpaper, basketball.

Lifehack: unfortunately, these rules of the formation of complex nouns are very relative (we are studying English, everything is not so easy here), so if you are in doubt about the spelling, it is better to ask the dictionary.

So what parts can a compound noun be made of?

The elements of a complex noun can be:

  1. two nouns:
    Let’s just wait at this bus stop.
    Bus stop = bus + stop
  2. adjective + noun:
    Clean the blackboard please.
    blackboard = black + board
  3. adjective + verb
    Pick up the dry-cleaning on your way home.
    dry-cleaning = dry + cleaning
  4. verb + noun:
    I can't wait to dive into that swimming pool.
    swimming pool = swimming + pool

In this case, a verb, like a noun, can be in the first or second place in a compound noun.

  1. verb + preposition:
    Let's order takeout for dinner.
    takeout = take + out
  2. noun + preposition:
    Both parts of a compound word can be in the first or second place:
    During the 1960s, a love-in was a form of peaceful protest.
    love-in (secret love) = love + in
    Do you think the police accept money from the underworld?
    underworld = under + world

So, now you can easily remember and recognize complex nouns in the English language, and if you find it difficult to spell correctly, you know what to do!

Author: Yana Kosur

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