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Compound words, also known as compound nouns, are terms composed of two or more words. They may be open (space), closed (no space), or hyphenated (a – between words). Here are common examples:

  • He loves reading about dark matter → a type of matter
  • They both have a sweet tooth → a preference for sweets
  • Go ahead and put it on the bookshelf → bookshelf is book + shelf
  • I think she went downstairs → heading down a flight of stairs
  • She hates her brother-in-law → siblings partner
  • I’m near the cul-de-sac → a curved dead end, oh, also dead end.

In some cases, how a compound word is written out is defendant on sentence structure. Here is an example of a compound adjective from grammarly: up-to-date and up to date.

If placed before a modifying noun, hyphenate → The book is up-to-date.

If placed after a modifying noun, leave open → An up to date book.


How do people remember what to do?! Practice-practice-practice! *And when in doubt, ask a tutor!

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