Tag Archives: compound nouns

Compound nouns create new words

By Mary Morel

We often invent new words by combining existing words to form what is known as a compound noun. Here are some of the ways we create compound nouns.

 Verb plus adverb, or preposition and adverb, or preposition plus verb

When the word order is verb plus adverb, you usually need a hyphen.

look-out, make-up, go-ahead

Some hyphens drop out with constant use (lookout is now common).

When the word order is adverb plus verb, you can usually write the compound noun as one word.

downpour, bypass, output

Verb plus noun, and noun plus verb

Most verb-plus-noun and noun-plus-verb compound words are usually one word (scarecrow), though a few are hyphenated (sun-dry).

Noun plus noun

Opinion differs on whether to hyphenate noun-plus-noun compound words, but they are usually hyphenated if both parts are of equal status.

owner-occupier, hocus-pocus

Adjective plus noun

Adjective-plus-noun compound words are usually written as two words.

black market

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