Bookcase, football team, car door, water bottle. We use these kind of compound nouns in English a lot. So if you want to speak natural English you need to know how to use them:
You all know about adjectives which modify nouns – a hot dog, a red carpet, an intelligent girl. Easy. Well we also have a lot of nouns which behave like adjectives to modify another noun. A washing machine, a kitchen table, a toothbrush.
1. Only the last noun is a real noun, the others have become adjectives. So only the last noun can be plural.
We say “cigarette packets” and “a bicycle shop” not “cigarettes packets” or “a bicycles shop”? (Yes, I know there are 20 cigarettes in the packet and many bicycles in the shop. It doesn't matter.) Remember – only the final noun can be plural.
There are a few exceptions to this: clothes, accounts, customs, sports, arms (as in weapons)
a clothes shop
a sports team
the accounts manager
2. You can put a lot of nouns together.
A bicycle wheel shop
the England football team coach
You can add adjectives before the nouns:
a long bedtime story
An old bicycle wheel shop
The handsome England football team coach
3. You should usually stress the first word:
a cheese shop
4. Sometimes we write the words as one word, like dishwasher, sometimes as two words, like vacuum cleaner, or sometimes with a hyphen, like dining-table.
There are not really any rules about this, it depends on the word and words often change over time.
Practice Change these phrases into more natural English:
eg. This is my brush for my hair = this is my hairbrush.
a) Prices of fuel have risen.
b) Where is my bag for my computer which is blue?
c) I need some more shelves for books.
d) My Mum has a great garden of vegetables.
e) The dog shouldn't sit on the table in the kitchen.
f) I don't like ice cream made of strawberries,
g) I bought some biscuits made of oats in the shop on the corner.
h) The handle of the basket (for shopping) of the supermarket broke when I was in the section for food which is frozen.
Check in the comments for the answers.
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Catherine: blogging about learning, language, culture, France and more...