Those difficult compound words!
We recently received a question about compound words.The student asked if there were any rules in determining if a compound word should be:
B. written as one (1) word or
Here are some examples that the student cited:
- coursework (course+work)
- course credit
- whiteboard (white+board) or blackboard
- air freshener
- air conditioner
The best answer to this question is: use a good dictionary. Even native speakers do not always know if the compound word is two words (like dry clean), a word with a hyphen (so-called) or one word (carpark).
A few general rules can help you on the test, though.
1. If the word is an adjective, it is usually hyphenated. Example, "The orange-colored dress was her favorite." "He is upwardly-mobile and has a good chance to become the chief executive."
2. If the word is noun + noun, or adjective + noun, it often becomes a (1) new word. Examples: "smartphone, earphones, headset, daydream, bedroom, pancake, strawberry, thunderstorm, blackboard, whitelist".
3. If it is a verb + noun, the words usually stay separate, or a noun + a long second noun (ie contains many letters). Examples, "cleaning products, air freshener, washing machine".
This is a good 'rule of thumb' when you know how to say a compound word but are not sure how to spell it!