How to Use Nominal Compounds in English | Learn About Compound Nouns

Dancing girl with flower in hand
Learn Advanced English

What Is A Nominal Compound or a Compound Noun?

Sometimes two or more words are joined in a compact manner in order to express clearly and precisely a person or a thing. This is called a Nominal Compound or a Compound Noun. For example, 'Atom bomb' is a Nominal Compound formed by joining two words 'Atom' and 'bomb'. 

In simple language, A Nominal Compound is a combination of two or more words that functions like a Noun in a sentence. A Nominal Compound is also called a Compound Noun. [A Nominal Compound or a Compound Noun contains two or more words.]

Examples of Nominal Compounds:

1) Adult literacy (Adult + Literacy) [Meaning: Literacy for adults]

2) Air Condition (Air + Condition) [Meaning: A system to control temperature]

3) Air hostess (Air + Hostess) [Meaning: A hostess to attend the air passengers]

4) Battle-ground or Battle-field (Battle + Ground/Field) [Meaning: A field or ground for battle]

5) Bedroom (Bed + Room) [Meaning: A room for sleeping on a bed]

6) Bus fare (Bus + Fare) [Meaning: Fare for travelling by bus]

7) Newspaper (News + Paper) [Meaning: Paper containing news]

Formation of Nominal Compounds:

Nominal Compounds are formed by joining two or more words [Nouns, Adjectives, Verbs or Verbal Nouns, Participles and Prepositions]

A) Nominal Compounds Formed By Joining Two Nouns

Bedtime, Birthday, Boatman, Book-store, Book fair, Book-stall, Book worm [A man who is fond of reading books], Brainwash, Briefcase, Bus fare, Bus journey, Businessman, Business deal, Ceiling fan, Census report, City life, Cahir-person, Chess-board, Charge-sheet, Cottage industry, Daydream, Deathtrap, Doorbell, Dust bin, Dust storm, Earphone, Education system, Election fund, Evening show, Eyeglass, Farmhouse, Film producer, Fire brigade, Fire station, Railway station, Football club, Footpath, Gas cylinder, Gas van, Guest house, Health care, Heart attack, Life insurance, Mudguard, Lifetime, Landslide, Letter-box, Newspaper, Night club, Oil lamp, Opera house, Oil mill, Paper mill, Postman, Post-office, Potato chips, Poverty line, Steam engine, Science fiction, Stonewall, Toothpaste, Telephone operator, Toy train, TV serial, Windmill, Cotton dress, Gold chain, English teacher, History book, Steam engine, Gun powder, Holiday resort, Lunch box, Car factory, Table tennis, School bus, Mineral water, Motorcycle, Cabinet minister, Cabinet meeting, Street light, Street dogs, Street Children, Farm house, Traffic police, Bank account, Mustard oil, Grasscutter, Table fan, Water tank, Water bottle, Lemon Juice, Cinema hall, Playground, tiffin box, boyfriend, girlfriend, Food production, Production cost, Shoe maker, rest room, Bathroom, etc.

B) Nominal Compounds Formed By Joining One Noun and One Verb or Verbal Noun

Bus stop, Boat-racing, Data processing, Oil-painting, Record-breaking, Sunrise, Sunset, Fact-finding, Rainfall, Oil painting, Handwriting, etc.

C) Nominal Compounds Formed By Joining Two Words [Verb/Verbal Noun/Participle + Noun]

Breakfast, Burial ground, Dining table, Driving licence, Fishing boat, Flying fish, Frying pan, Pickpocket, Watchdog, Rainfall, Reading room, Drinking Water, Swimming pool, Washing machine, Drawing room, Call girl, etc.

D) Nominal Compounds Formed By Joining Two Words [One Adjective and One Noun/Verb]

Blackboard, Blue blood, Common room, Daily Routine, Deadline, First aid, Full moon, Hot pot, Leaden heart, Magic box, Magic show, Solar energy, Metal money, Short-cut, Silver coin, Public speaking, Public place, Homesick, Sun-burnt, Bestseller, Gentleman, Gentlewoman, Dead body, Chief minister, Prime minister, etc.

D) Nominal Compounds Formed By Joining Two Words [Noun/Verb + Preposition | Noun + Preposition + Noun]

Make-up, Turn-over, Walk-out, Overflow, Outlet, Outlook, Output, Uplift, Over-time, Over-exercise, Over-production, Lock-up, Overthrow, Upturn, Input, Lockdown, Downfall, Cutt-off, Underground, Passer-by, Brother-in-law, Sister-in-law, Father-in-law, Commander-in-chief, etc.

E) Nominal Compounds Consisting of More Than Two Words

1) Aircraft-control system [A system that controls aircraft]

2) birthday party [A party to celebrate someone's birthday]

3) Jute-producing area [An area that produces jute]

4) One-parent family [A family consisting of one parent]

5) Machine-made clothes [Clothes made by machines]

More Examples

Oil production cost, London Bus Routes, etc.

* Nominal Compounds may be Countable or Uncountable.

Examples of Countable Nominal Compounds

Bank account, Blood donor, Bus stop, Dining room, Bus driver, Driving licence, Health centre, Heart attack, High school, Film star, Film producer, Sister-in-law, etc.

Examples of Uncountable Nominal Compounds

Blood pressure, Capital punishment, Income tax, Pocket money, Washing powder, etc.

Important Notes

1) Some Nominal Compounds are written with a hyphen mark, for example, over-flow, over-production, pen-friend, self-control, self-respect, etc.

2) Some Nominal Compounds are written without a hyphen mark and with a bit of space between the words, for example, football match, film star, radio programme, post office, etc.

3) Some Nominal Compounds are written with either a hyphen mark or a space between the words, for example, mountain-stream or mountain stream, ink-bottle or ink bottle, etc.

4) A few Nominal compounds are written without a hyphen mark or a space between the words (They are written in a compact way making a single word), for example, Rainfall, Postman, Birthday, Newspaper, Boatman, Breakfast, etc.

5) Some Nominal Compounds (having more than two words) are written with hyphens between the first two words and with space between the last words, for example, one-parent family, jute-producing area, etc.

6) Some Nominal Compounds (having more than two words) are written without hyphens but the first two words as a single word and the later words with a little space, for example, birthday party, breakfast table, etc.

[You May Also Read These]

Learn How To Use WHAT ABOUT and HOW ABOUT in English Speaking and Writing. | WHAT ABOUT vs HOW ABOUT

Use The Phrases IN THE BEGINNING, AT THE BEGINNING, IN THE END & AT THE END Correctly in English Wring & Speaking

How To Use The Phrase BE ABOUT TO (do something) In English Speaking & Writing? | BE NOT ABOUT TO (do something)

Between vs Among | Know the difference between 'Between' and 'Among'

What Is A Compound Adjective? | How to Use Compound Adjectives in English Sentences Correctly?

One Big Mistake in English Writing and Speaking | [Five Billion or Five Billions - Which One is Correct?]

How to Use the Phrase NO USE In English Writing and Speaking? | Correct Usage of the Phrase NO USE

How to Use Nominal Compounds in English | Learn About Compound Nouns

ON vs IN | I'm On the Train or I'm In the Train?

Difference Between ON TIME and IN TIME | I REACH ON TIME or I REACH IN TIME?

Important Rules of Using Correlative Conjunctions In A Sentence Correctly | Correct Usages of Correlative Conjunctions

How to Make Emphatic Sentences Using Do, Does and Did | Make Emphatic Sentences Using Do, Does and Did

Do You Know When We Should Use THE Before a Country Name? | I Am Going to USA or I Am Going to The USA?

Some Idiomatic Comparisons | Learn About Comparative Idioms With Examples

Use of The Word OPPOSITE as an Adjective, Adverb, Noun and Preposition | Learn the Correct Usage of OPPOSITE

How to Use DEMONSTRATE and PENETRATE in Different Ways. | Different Uses of Demonstrate and Penetrate

What's the Difference Between Maybe and May Be? | Maybe vs May Be