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Material Nouns and Compound Nouns

What are material nouns? What are the examples of material nouns? Is Book a material noun? Can a noun be two words? What are compound nouns?

Material and Compound Nouns


1) A noun is a word that is used to refer to people, places, things, events, substances, and qualities.

The dinner was amazing today.

2) Material nouns denote a material or substance from which things are made of.

a plastic bottle, a diamond ring etc.

Material nouns are uncountable, thus they do not have a plural form. Generally, articles are not used with material nouns as they are uncountable.

I really want to buy these cottons pants. I really want to buy these cotton pants.

Material nouns fall into several categories:

a) related to nature.

air, water, salt, coal, silver, gold etc.

b) related to animals.

meat, milk, egg, wool etc.

c) related to plants.

cotton, coffee, tea, wood etc.

d) artificial or man-made materials.

alcohol, cheese, brick, steel etc.

A compound noun contains two or more words which are joined together and form a single noun. Compound nouns can be words written together, words that are hyphenated, or separate words.

The first word usually describes or modifies the second word, denoting its type or purpose. Consequently, the second word identifies the item itself.

I need to buy a new toothbrush. (a brush used for cleaning one’s teeth)

There is no exact rule as to when we should write compound nouns together, hyphenated, or as separate words. If you are not sure how to write a compound noun, consult a dictionary.

Could you go with me to the bus stop?
My in-laws are incredible people.
I love your new haircut! You look fantastic!

Note that the stress usually falls on the first syllable in compound nouns. As a result, the word stress helps to differentiate between a compound noun and an adjective + noun.

A greenhouse is a glass building used for growing plants that need warmth, light, and protection. (compound noun).

A green house is a building that someone lives in. This building is painted green. (adjective + noun)

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