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Compound Words: Types and Examples

Compound Words

In this lesson, we will talk about compound words. First, compound words are generally formed by combining two different words. When these two different words are combined, the meaning can be similar to the meaning of the words or it can acquire a completely different meaning. 

Generally. For example Boy + friend = Boyfriend. In the first part, in the word "boy" (the person who describes the compound word is said) + "friend" (what is that person to us). = As a result, "Boyfriend" ( is our compound word, is meant to tell us). Although it gave an idea of the person, it took on a different meaning.

Some compound words:

  • Egg + Plant = Eggplant
  • Kid + Nap = Kidnap  
  • Hand + Shake = Handshake
  • Leg + End = Legend  
  • Down + Side = Downside 
  • Air + Bag = Airbag  
  • Any + Way = Anyway  
  • Car + Go = Cargo 
  •  Rain + Bow = Rainbow 
  • Foreign + Exchange = Forex

There are three types of compound words:

1. Open compounds: school bus, living room – are commonly used together but are written with a space in between. 

2. Closed compounds: flowerpot, keyboard, notebook, bookstore – mesh two words together.

3. Hyphenated compounds: mother-in-law, merry-go-round – not surprisingly use a hyphen between two or more words, often to prevent ambiguity. 


Open compounds words


I think the open variety are the most tricky to spot. A key characteristic of this type is that they’re two separate words frequently used together.

Since they’re two separate words, it can be confusing to identify them. However, you know they’re compound words because they need to be written in a specific order to achieve a specific meaning.

Examples of open compound:

  • Attorney general
  • Cave in
  • Coffee mug
  • Coffee table
  • Dinner table
  • Full moon
  • Grand jury
  • Half sister
  • Ice cream
  • Largely irrelevant
  • Living room
  • Middle class
  • Newly formed
  • Post office
  • Real estate
  • Relationship building
  • Yoga mat

Closed compounds words


Closed compound words should be pretty straightforward. They combine two nouns into a single word to create a compound word with a different definition. Closed compound words are usually made up of only two words.

Examples of closed compound:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Become
  • Bookstore
  • Cannot
  • Crosswalk
  • Elsewhere
  • Eyeglasses
  • Fireman
  • Fireworks
  • Football
  • Frontrunner
  • Grandmother
  • Handwriting
  • Moonlight
  • Notebook
  • Railroad
  • Sunflower
  • Superman
  • Together
  • Upside
  • Waistcoat

Hyphenated compounds words


Hyphenated compound words can be easily confused with open ones. Sometimes, a writer will hyphenate words when they should be separated with a space, or vice versa.

One important rule of thumb to remember is that in most cases, a compound adjective is hyphenated if placed before the noun it modifies, but not if placed after the noun.

Examples of  hyphenated compound:

  • A long-term solution
  • An up-to-date user guide
  • Daughter-in-law
  • Editor-in-Chief
  • Eighty-six
  • Long-form
  • Mass-produced
  • Merry-go-round
  • Mother-in-law
  • One-half
  • One-third
  • Over-the-counter
  • Part-time
  • Well-being



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