Compounding and Blending

The act of making a new word using an old one is called derivation in English. And Compounding is creating words by combining two or more words. Let's learn!

Compounding and Blending in The English Language

What Is Compounding?

Compounding is a word formation process in which two or more words are combined to create a new word with a new meaning. In a compound word, the meaning of the whole word is often different from the meanings of the individual words that make it up.

Compounding: Types

There are three types of compounding:

  • Open Compounding: when there is a space between the two elements.

living room

half sister

full moon

  • Hyphenated Compounding: when there is a hyphen between the two words.

check-in

long-term

seventy-two

  • Close Compounding: when the two elements are written together to create a new word.

railroad

upstream

skateboard

Tip

There is no specific rule on how to write a compound word. Some words can be written in all three forms (sixpack, six-pack, six pack), while others have a fixed form (breakfast, bookcase). It is best to consult a dictionary to find the correct form.
As a general rule, the words in a compound adjective are hyphenated when they are used before a noun (a well-known teacher) but not when they come after the noun (The teacher is well known).

How to Form Compound Words?

There are several ways to make a compound word. Let us discuss them:

  • Noun-noun compounds consist of two nouns combined together to make a noun.

fireworks

waistline

textbook

ice cream

  • Verb-noun compounds consist of a verb that is placed before a noun to make a noun.

killjoy

breakfast

pickpocket

  • Adjective-noun compounds consist of an adjective that comes before a noun to make a noun.

fast-food

easy chair

  • Verb-noun compounds are formed when a verb is followed by a noun to make a collocation that acts as a verb.

take a walk

go shopping

  • Noun-verb compounds are formed from a noun that precedes a verb to make a new verb:

breastfeed

sunbathe

  • Adjective-participle compounds: adjectives stand before present participles (gerunds) or past participles to make an adjective.

good-looking

Here, we have a present participle (gerund).

never-ending

As you can see, a present participle is used here.

double-sided

Here, we have a past participle.

low-paid

As you can see, a past participle is used here.

an example of open compound

  • Adjective-noun compounds are formed when an adjective stands before a noun to make an adjective:

blue-collar

short-term

long-distance

  • Noun-adjective compounds are formed when a noun is placed before an adjective/adverb to make a compound adjective:

gender-neutral

born-again

cruelty-free

  • Verb-adverb compounds are formed when a verb comes before an adverb to make a noun.

look-out

drawback

take-off

  • Adverb-noun compounds are formed when an adverb comes before a noun to make a compound noun.

onlooker

bystander

  • Adverb-verb compounds are formed from an adverb placed before a verb which makes a compound noun.

output

upturn

input

The Plural Form of Compound Words

  • Compound nouns are usually pluralized by adding the inflection -s to the end of the word:

a skateboard: three skateboards

a game console: several game consoles

  • In compound nouns that are made by a noun and an adverb, the first part (noun) becomes plural:

a hanger-on → several hangers-on

a listener-in → several listeners-in

a passer-by → several passers-by

  • Compound nouns that end in -'in-law' can be plural both on the first and the final part.

father-in-law → fathers-in-law or father-in-laws

brother-in-law → brothers-in-law or brother-in-laws

Rhyming Compounds

Rhyming compounds are a type of compound word that is formed by combining two words that rhyme. In a rhyming compound, the final syllables of the two words have the same sound. This formation process is mostly found in child talk (and talk addressed to children). For example:

lovely-dovely

chiller-killer

tootsie-wootsie

Bunnie-wunnie

Note that not all compounded words are rhyming compounds.

Warning

The pronunciation of a compound noun is different from an adjective with a noun. Stress is very important in this case. In compound nouns, the stress usually falls on the first syllable. For example:

a 'greenhouse = place where we grow plants (compound noun) Vs. a green 'house = a house painted green (adjective and noun)

What Is Blending?

Blending is a word formation process in which two or more words are combined to create a new word that merges the sounds and meanings of the original words.

Blending: Types

We have two main types of blending, which have been listed below:

  • Attributive blends: a blended word in which one word is the head and the other one is an attributive modifying the head.

porta light: a light that is portable

Here, 'Porta' is the attributive.

bathroom: a kind of room

Here, 'room' is the head.

  • Coordinate blends: a blended word in which there are two heads and they add equal meanings to the final blended word.

Breakfast + lunch = brunch

Transmitter + receiver = transceiver

How to Blend Words?

In the following, you will find ways to merge words to make a blended word:

  • the first part of the first word + the final part of the second word:

Breakfast + lunch = brunch

As you can see, this is a non-overlapping blend that means no letters are overlapping.

Smoke + fog = smog

As you can see, this is an overlapping blend: 'o' in two words overlaps.

  • the first part of the first word + the first part of the second word:

teleprinter + exchange = telex

In this example, we have an overlapping blend.

foreign + exchange = forex

  • the ending part of the first word + the ending part of the second word:

hello kitty + delicious = kittylicious

  • the first part of the first word + the whole second word:

Brad + Angelina = Brangelina

American + Indian = Amerindian

television + evangelist = televangelist

  • the first part of the first word + the whole or the ending part of the second word + the ending part of the first word (splinter):

chuckle + snort = chortle

disgusting + gross = disgrossting

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