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7th Grade Language Arts / Lesson 4.6: Compound Words

Compound Words

In addition to borrowing words from other languages, we add words to English by building new ones.

One method of building new words is to combine existing words to create compound words.

Example:  top + soil = topsoil

The meaning of the word topsoil comes from the meaning of the two parts of the word.  It means the upper layer (top) of soil.

Click here to see several lists of compound words


Compound Words

Some compound words have internal hyphens to separate the two words that form them.

Examples:  merry-go-round; editor-in-chief

Hyphens connect the words of a compound modifiers that comes before the word being modified.

 Incorrect  Correct
 He is a well respected man.  He is a well-respected man.

 

No hyphens are used in compound modifiers that come after the word being modified

 Incorrect  Correct
 That man is well-respected.  That man is well respected.

 

No hyphens are used in compound words ending in the suffix "ly" 

 Incorrect  Correct
That was a badly-punctuated sentence. That was a badly punctuated sentence.

 

No hyphens are used in compound words made up of proper nouns or proper adjectives.

 Incorrect  Correct
The South-American rain forest is home to hundreds of species of hummingbirds. The South American rain forest is home to hundreds of species of hummingbirds.