A compound noun is a noun made up of two or more words. Each word makes up part of the meaning of the noun.
- Compound nouns can be written three ways:
A single word:
Hint: Single-word compound and hyphenated compounds are easy to spot. Two-word compounds can be tricky. Often they can be confused with adjectives describing nouns. Ask yourself, “Would I find that word in the dictionary?” For example, cold water is water that is cold. Ice cream is not cream that is ice. To check the spelling of a compound noun, check the dictionary.
- Proper nouns such as names and places can also be classified as compound nouns.
Hint: A compound noun is the sum of its two parts. Just because you can divide a word into two other words doesn’t make it compound.
- When making a compound noun plural, if the noun is one word, add s to the end. If it is two words or hyphenated, add s to the part that is plural, not the whole noun.
one director general … two directors general (there are two directors, not two generals)
one mother-in-law … two mothers-in-law (there are two mothers, not two laws)