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Compound Words

5 Dic

Compound Words

There are three forms of compound words:

the closed form, in which the words are melded together, such as firefly, secondhand, softball, childlike, crosstown, redhead, keyboard, makeup, notebook;


the hyphenated form, such as daughter-in-law, master-at-arms, over-the-counter, six-pack, six-year-old, mass-produced;


and the open form, such as post office, real estate, middle class, full moon, half sister, attorney general.

Here are some examples of compound noun types and their written forms.
Compound nouns:
  • noun + noun – (these are the most common) – housewife,  suitcase, seafood. database
  • noun + er (noun or verb) – housekeeper, backwater, screwdriver, eye-opener
  • noun + verb-ing – skydiving, window shopping, film-making, trainspotting (train spotting)
  • verb+particle – handout, giveaway, checkout, lookout
  • particle-verb – income, output, bypass, outsource
  • adj + noun – greenhouse, blackbird, whiteboard, real estate
  • verb + noun – swimsuit, driving licence, rocking chair, washing machine
  • three word compounds  – washing-up-liquid, sister-in-law, birds-of-prey

 Making compound nouns plural:

Most compound nouns follow the normal convention that would be used if the final part of the compound were pluralised:
  • suitcases, handouts, swimsuits
  • housewives, bypasses
Where compounds end in the prepositions by or on the first word in made plural:
  • passer-by  passers-by
  • hanger-on  hangers-on
Where compounds have three parts the first word is made plural (if this word is the defining word):
  • sisters-in-law   but   washing-up-liquids

Quiz: Plurals- Compound Nouns

Plural forms of compound nouns

In general we make the plural of a compound noun by adding -s to the “base word” (the most “significant” word). Look at these examples:
singular plural
a tennis shoe three tennis shoes
one assistant headmaster five assistant headmasters
the sergeant major some sergeants major
a mother-in-law two mothers-in-law
an assistant secretary of state three assistant secretaries of state
my toothbrush our toothbrushes
a woman-doctor four women-doctors
a doctor of philosophy two doctors of philosophy
a passerby, a passer-by two passersby, two passers-by

Compound noun quiz

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Compound Words

5 Dic

Compound Words

There are three forms of compound words:

the closed form, in which the words are melded together, such as firefly, secondhand, softball, childlike, crosstown, redhead, keyboard, makeup, notebook;


the hyphenated form, such as daughter-in-law, master-at-arms, over-the-counter, six-pack, six-year-old, mass-produced;


and the open form, such as post office, real estate, middle class, full moon, half sister, attorney general.

Here are some examples of compound noun types and their written forms.
Compound nouns:
  • noun + noun – (these are the most common) – housewife,  suitcase, seafood. database
  • noun + er (noun or verb) – housekeeper, backwater, screwdriver, eye-opener
  • noun + verb-ing – skydiving, window shopping, film-making, trainspotting (train spotting)
  • verb+particle – handout, giveaway, checkout, lookout
  • particle-verb – income, output, bypass, outsource
  • adj + noun – greenhouse, blackbird, whiteboard, real estate
  • verb + noun – swimsuit, driving licence, rocking chair, washing machine
  • three word compounds  – washing-up-liquid, sister-in-law, birds-of-prey

 Making compound nouns plural:

Most compound nouns follow the normal convention that would be used if the final part of the compound were pluralised:
  • suitcases, handouts, swimsuits
  • housewives, bypasses
Where compounds end in the prepositions by or on the first word in made plural:
  • passer-by  passers-by
  • hanger-on  hangers-on
Where compounds have three parts the first word is made plural (if this word is the defining word):
  • sisters-in-law   but   washing-up-liquids

Quiz: Plurals- Compound Nouns

Plural forms of compound nouns

In general we make the plural of a compound noun by adding -s to the “base word” (the most “significant” word). Look at these examples:
singular plural
a tennis shoe three tennis shoes
one assistant headmaster five assistant headmasters
the sergeant major some sergeants major
a mother-in-law two mothers-in-law
an assistant secretary of state three assistant secretaries of state
my toothbrush our toothbrushes
a woman-doctor four women-doctors
a doctor of philosophy two doctors of philosophy
a passerby, a passer-by two passersby, two passers-by

Compound noun quiz