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Compound Nouns and Adjectives

In this lesson we’re looking at creating compound nouns and adjectives in English.

Have fun with the lesson, and don’t forget to try the quizzes.

– James.

Lesson Contents

Forming compound nouns

In English we can add two words together to make a new noun. For example:

A change in climate means a change in lifestyle. 
life + style = lifestyle

Compound nouns can be created may ways:

  • NOUN + NOUN:

We were waiting ages at the bus stop


I wrote an example on the whiteboard.


Do you know if there’s a swimming pool near here?

  • NOUN + VERB:

Wow! I love your hairstyle!

With compound nouns, there are no rules wether the nouns are together, separated by a space, or separated by a hyphen.  You’ll have to use a dictionary if you want to find out.

Match the halves of the compound words.

Forming compound adjectives

Compound adjectives can be formed in many different ways:

  • NUMBER + NOUN (five-minute, twenty-page, ten-storey)
  • ADJECTIVE + NOUN (short-term, high-quality, last minute)
  • ADJECTIVE + VERB+ING (good-looking, long-lasting, quick-thinking)
  • NOUN + VERB+ING (mouth-watering, record-breaking, English-speaking)
  • NOUN + ADJECTIVE (world-famous, smoke-free, ice-cold)
  • NOUN + PAST PARTICIPLE (solar-powered, middle-aged, sun-dried)
  • ADVERB + PAST PARTICIPLE (brightly-lit, well-known, highly-respected)
  • ADJECTIVE + PAST PARTICIPLE (old-fashioned, ready-made, short lived)

The vast majority of compound adjectives are separated by hyphens.

Read the definitions of compound words below, and place the correct compound words next to them.

Complete the conversations using compound words.

backpack cat food house plants jet lag landmark
nature lover nightflights six-day trek sleeping bag well-known


All Quizzes