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Open Compounds

Open Compounds

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Open compounds, also known as spaced compounds or separate compounds, are a type of compound noun where two or more words are combined to form a noun, but they remain separate words without any hyphens or spaces between them. In open compounds, the words maintain their individual identity while functioning together to convey a specific meaning.

Here are some important details about open compounds:


Open compound nouns are formed by combining two or more words together, without using hyphens or spaces between them. The words remain separate entities.


  • Post office:
    • formed by combining "post" (referring to mail or postal services) and "office" (a place where administrative or professional work is conducted).
  • Coffee table:
    • formed by combining "coffee" (a beverage made from roasted beans) and "table" (a piece of furniture with a flat surface).
  • More examples:
    • Airplane ticket
    • Birthday party
    • Raincoat
    • Bookshelf
    • Baseball game
    • Bus stop
    • Firefighter helmet
    • Football field
    • Ice cream
    • Moonlight
    • Newspaper article
    • Parking lot
    • Rainforest
    • School bus
    • Soccer ball

Semantic Relationship:

In open compounds, the words retain their independent meanings, and the relationship between them is usually descriptive or associational:

  • Noun + Noun: The first noun serves as a modifier or descriptor for the second noun.
    • Example:
      • Coffee table (a table specifically used for placing coffee).

Plural Formation:

For open compound nouns, the plural is typically formed by making the main or primary word of the compound plural:

  • Example:
    • Post offices,
    • coffee tables.

Stress and Pronunciation:

In open compounds, the stress typically falls on the first word:

  • Example:
    • POST office,
    • COFFEE table.

Open compounds allow for clear and precise communication by combining words to create descriptive and specific meanings. By using open compounds, we can express ideas concisely and convey the intended message effectively.