Compound Words—What Are They? (2024)

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Compounds words are when two or more words are joined together, creating a new word. Read on to learn about the many types of compound words.

Compound Words—What Are They? (1)
Correct Use
  • Compound words are when two or more words are joined, creating a different word with another distinct meaning.
  • There are different types of compound words: open (high school), closed (grandmother), or hyphenated (two-fold).
  • Compound words include compound nouns (stereotype), compound adjectives (everlasting), and compound verbs (greenwash).

What Are Compound Words?

What do a honeybee, butterfly, earthworm, and jitterbug have in common? That they’re all insects? Nope! That they’re compound words. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about compound words, from what they are to the different types.

Think of the word fire. You might be picturing something similar to flames of bright light, heat, and smoke. Now, think of the word fighter. You’re most likely thinking of something or someone that fights, like a boxer or soldier. Now, put these two words together: firefighter. What do you imagine? A person whose career is to put out and extinguish fires. This is an example of a compound word—two words with separate meanings combined to create an entirely new word.

Types of Compound Words

There are a few types of compound words, including:

  • Compound nouns
  • Compound adjectives
  • Compound verbs

These can be written as either open, closed, or hyphenated compounds. Open compounds are compounds that have a space between each word (e.g., full moon). Closed compounds don’t have a space (e.g., daybed), and hyphenated compounds have a hyphen separating each word (e.g., up-to-date).

Compound Nouns

A compound noun is made up of a noun plus another noun. Take moonlight as an example. However, compound nouns are also made using other parts of speech, like verbs and adjectives.

Think of the word haircut. Hair on its own is a noun. Cut is often used as a verb, but when you put those two words together, it becomes a noun again. Please note that the order of a compound noun is not limited to noun + noun, or noun + other parts of speech. Many combinations can produce a compound noun. For example, a verb + a noun can also create a compound noun (e.g., swimsuit).

There are opened, closed, and hyphenated compound nouns. Below are a few examples of each.

Black eye
(adjective + noun)
(verb + noun)
(verb + preposition)
Slam dunk
(verb + noun)
(verb + adverb)
(noun + verb)
Quick fix
(adjective + noun)
(verb + noun)
(noun + noun)
Washing machine
(verb + noun)
(verb + noun)
(verb + preposition)
Close call
(adjective + noun)
(verb + noun)
(adjective + verb + adverb)

Often, many words start as open compound words, and eventually turn into closed compound words (e.g., notebook). There are a few standards that can be remembered to know whether a compound word should be opened, closed, or hyphenated. For example, a noun + noun compound word is usually closed (e.g., boyfriend). A compound word that uses a verb +ing” is often written as an open compound (e.g., dry cleaning).

Compound Adjectives

Compound adjectives are two words joined into one to describe a noun (or compound noun). Like compound nouns, they can contain different parts of speech. Compound adjectives are mostly written with hyphens, but there are also opened and closed forms of these words.

Here are a few examples of compound adjectives:

  • Noun + noun + adjective:
Last time she walked by the lake, she saw a seven-foot-long alligator.
  • Adjective + noun:
They were in a long-distance relationship for seven years.
  • Adverb + past participle:
A new school had to be built because the old one was overpopulated.
Quick Tip

As with most English language rules, the rules for compound nouns and compound adjectives are not set in stone. Knowing when to use what type of compound word takes practice and familiarization. Your best bet would be writing with an easy-to-use spell and grammar checker like LanguageTool. Not only will this writing assistant make sure you consistently use the correct form of a compound word, but it will also conveniently provide synonyms and offer stylistic improvements.

Compound Verbs

There are several types of compound verbs, like phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs, and helping verbs. Here, we are only going to focus on single-word compound verbs. Like in compound nouns and adjectives, these verbs are made by joining two words. Below are a few examples of compound verbs:

I was looking for someone who could babysit my kids for the weekend.
He was notorious for overcooking steaks.
For her birthday, she wanted to test-drive a new Ferrari.
I didn’t want to overstay my visit.
He had to sound-proof his apartment.

Keep in mind that compound verbs are usually written with a hyphen or as a closed compound.

When it comes to compound words, here’s what you should remember: There are many types, like compound nouns, adjectives, and verbs. These can come as open compound words (which have a space between the words), closed compound words (don’t have a space), and hyphenated compounds (the words are separated by a hyphen).

Many compound words have multiple acceptable ways of being written. Sometimes, they start with a space and through years of use, the space is eventually removed. The ambiguity of compound words is what makes them difficult to master. That’s why it’s worth reiterating that you should always have a user-friendly text editor like LanguageTool to help you get the correct spelling (and spacing) of compound words.

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  • Compound Words—What Are They? (2)


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Compound Words—What Are They? (2024)


What is the answer of compound words? ›

Compound words occur when two or more words combine to form one individual word or a phrase that acts as one individual word. Common examples of compound words include ice cream, firefighter, and up-to-date.

What are the 10 examples of compound words? ›

Give some examples of compound words.
  • Living room.
  • High school.
  • Ice cream.
  • Football.
  • Backspace.
  • Armchair.
  • One-footed.
  • Sun-dried.

What is the rule for compound words? ›

An open compound word is written with spaces between the words (e.g., “high school”). A hyphenated compound word is written with hyphens between the words (e.g., “sister-in-law”). A closed compound word is written with no spaces or punctuation (e.g., “cheesecake”).

What are 30 compound words? ›

List of 1,720 Compound Words
118 more rows

What is compound answers? ›

What is a Compound? When two or more elements chemically combine in a fixed ratio by mass, the obtained product is known as a compound. Compounds can be defined as substances consisting of 2 or more different types of elements in a fixed ratio of their atoms.

What are 20 examples of compound nouns? ›

Adjective + Noun
Compound NounAdjectiveNoun
Hot dogHotDog
6 more rows

What are 20 examples of compound sentences with answers? ›

Compound sentences in the Present Simple Tense
  • I like to read, and my sister enjoys painting.
  • He plays soccer, but she prefers swimming.
  • They study hard, so they get good grades.
  • We work during the day, and we relax in the evening.
  • She loves her job, yet she complains about it a lot.

How do you know if a word is compound? ›

6.1. A compound word is a union of two or more words, either with or without a hyphen. It conveys a unit idea that is not as clearly or quickly conveyed by the component words in unconnected succes- sion.

What are the three 3 types of compound words? ›

Three types of compound words are closed, open, and hyphenated. Sometimes the meaning of a compound word can be determined from its parts, and sometimes the new word means something completely different.

How to find compound words? ›

Compound Words

A compound word is where two or more root words are merged into a new and different word. There are three different kinds of compound: open, closed, and hyphenated compound words.

What are simple compound words? ›

Compound words are words that are formed by joining two or more smaller words together to form a new phrase that has a different meaning. Here are some compound words examples: Sunflower – Combines “sun” and “flower.” Toothbrush – Merges “tooth” and “brush.” Playground – Joins “play” and “ground.”

Is grandma a compound word? ›

1 Answer. Grandmother is indeed a a compound word coming from the French grandmère. Consider "grandson": it doesn't mean "a generation older than". It means "another generation removed", as OP said.

What is the compound word over answer? ›

Expert-Verified Answer

Compound word for over are- Overboard, overwhelming, overstep, carry over, over-the-counter . EXPLANATION: Compound words are words that are formed by merging two or more different words.

What is compound one word answer? ›

1. : a word consisting of parts that are words. "rowboat," "high school," and "light-year" are compounds. 2. : something formed by a union of elements or parts.

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