Compound nouns in English

Revisado porNataliia Afonina / más sobre Proceso editorial

Welcome to your language journey!

  • - 01

    Learn through the article!

  • - 02

    Pass a language test

  • - 03

    Check the results

  • - 04

    Subscribe to reach fluency!

girl point on notes

Compound nouns are very common in the English language and often come up in both spoken and written English. We use them to refer to a single concept made up of two or more words.

In this reference, you will learn all about compound noun meaning, find a list of examples, and look at their different types including compound proper nouns.

What is a compound noun

Compound noun definition: "a type of noun that consists of two or more words joined together to form a single word." The words can be nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and articles. For example, the word "firefighter" is a compound noun because it is made up of the words "fire" and "fighter".

Compound nouns can be divided into three categories: closed, open, and hyphenated. All three follow the same principle of combining two or more words into one structure.

Closed compound nouns are words that are written as one word, such as "firefighter". Open compound nouns are words that are written as two separate words, such as "ice cream". Hyphenated compound nouns are words that are written with a hyphen between them, such as "mother-in-law".

Compound nouns list

Here is a list of 30 compound nouns that are commonly used in English:

  • Airport
  • Bedroom
  • Classroom
  • Eyebrow
  • Football
  • Haircut
  • Sunflower
  • Toothbrush
  • Watermelon
  • Yearbook
  • Airplane
  • Blackboard
  • Crossroad
  • Eyeglasses
  • Forehead
  • Hairdresser
  • Sunshine
  • Tornado
  • Waterproof
  • Yellowstone
  • Airbag
  • Bookstore
  • Crosswalk
  • Firefighter
  • Hairdresser
  • Sunburn
  • Toothpaste
  • Waveform
  • Yogurt
  • Cupcake

In addition, here are 10 common open compound nouns:

  • Ice cream
  • Post office
  • Real estate
  • High school
  • Middle age
  • Air conditioner
  • Hair spray
  • Ground beef
  • Cupboard door
  • Peanut butter

And here are 10 common hyphenated compounds:

  • Mother-in-law
  • Daughter-in-law
  • Brother-in-law
  • Writer-director
  • Well-being
  • Six-year-old
  • Two-thirds
  • State-of-the-art
  • Long-term
  • Self-control 

    Compound nouns in English 

Compound noun examples in sentences

Here are some examples of compound nouns in sentences:

  • "The firefighter put out the fire."
  • "The ice cream was delicious."
  • "She got a new haircut."
  • "He caught a fish with his fishing rod."
  • "They are going to the airport tomorrow."
  • "The students are studying in the classroom."
  • "He has thick eyebrows."
  • "She bought a new toothbrush."
  • "They are playing football in the park."
  • “He planted a sunflower in his garden.”


Compound proper nouns

Compound proper nouns are also common in the English language. These are nouns that are composed of two or more words and are used to describe people, places, or things. For example, the compound proper noun "New York City" is used to describe the city in the United States.

Compound proper nouns can also be made up of two or more words that are used to describe a person. For example, the compound proper noun "John Smith" is used to describe a person.

Proper compound nouns are always capitalized, even if they are made up of two or more common words. For example, "University of Princeton" is a proper compound noun because it is a name of a specific place, even if the word "university" normally would not be capitalized.

Using compound nouns in sentences

Treat compound nouns exactly the same way as regular nouns when adding them to sentences. So, use them to represent a person, place, thing, or idea.


  • "The students of the University of Princeton are some of the brightest in the country."
  • "My neighbor planted a new rose bush in her garden."
  • “My brother bought a new laptop computer for his college classes.”

If you want to create your own compound nouns, you can do so by combining two words to create a new meaning. Just make sure to capitalize the first letter of each word in proper compound nouns such as "United States" and so on.


Compound nouns are a type of noun that consists of two or more words used to form a single word. Compound nouns can be used to describe people, places, things, and ideas. They're very common in English and you can greatly benefit from enriching your vocabulary with more of these kinds of words.

Make your next step to fluency with Promova

Compound Nouns Quiz
¡Obtén una revisión de tus habilidades y sigue tu progreso a medida que mejoras!
10 min
10 preguntas
Hacer la prueba
Try Promova
Learn English with a handy app full of awesome lessons!
Nouns in EnglishEnglish Nouns ListTypes of Nouns in EnglishQuantifiers in English


PromovaDec 15th, 2023
Certainly! Compound nouns are categorized into three types: closed, open, and hyphenated. Closed compound nouns are written as a single word like "firefighter," open compound nouns are written as two separate words like "ice cream," and hyphenated compound nouns are joined by a hyphen, such as "mother-in-law."
Deandre from SpainDec 15th, 2023
Can you help me: what are the three categories of compound nouns, and how do they differ?
Esi :)👻🥴👻Oct 16th, 2023
Omg it helped my lil bro learn