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Compound Verbs

und verb is formed when two or more words are combined to form a
rb. This type of verb can be written as either one word
sesit") or two hyphenated words ("to water-proof").
Television can easily brainwash children, making them desensitized
to violence and bad language.
My father, who is a fisherman, water-proofs his boat every winter.
Compound Adjectives
Compound adjectives are formed when two or more words are
combined as a single idea to modify a noun. Normally, the words in
a compound adjective are hyphenated when they come before a noun
(a well-known actor) but not when they come after (The actor is well
There was no way we could fix that broken-down house because it
was way beyond repair.
We watched as the high-speed boat race took place before our very
Compound Nouns
A compound noun can be two or more nouns combined to form a
single noun.
These may be written as separate words (grapefruit juice), as words
linked by a hyphen (sister-in-law), or as one word (schoolteacher).
Because of not taking his medicine he suffered a heart attack and
I have seen movie stars wearing their sunglasses everywhere; they
hate to be recognized.

Headed and Headless Compounds

Headless Compounds
Headless compounds are compound words where the meaning is not
specified by any parts of the word.
He specializes in still-life photography. (Still does not describe and
kind of life).
The sabre-tooth tiger has long been extinct. (Sabre does not
describe a type of tooth).
Headed Compounds
In these words the meaning is specified by the head word in the
whole compound.
My dog never sleeps in its dog house. It always sleeps outside. (Dog
specifies the kind of house).
We never use blackboards in the classroom anymore. (Black
describes the type of board).
A word formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two or more
other words or word parts. This is also known as a portmanteau
One common type of blend is a full word followed by a word part,
also known as a splinter. This is the case
with motorcade (motor + cavalcade).

Hes been a workaholic all his life. He works seven days a week and
from sunup to sundown.
She bought a new camcorder to record all her special events.
The docudrama I saw last night was very interesting. It was about
the Amazon Jungle.
An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a name of an
organization, rock band, etc. or by combining the initial letters of a
series of words. Acronyms differ from abbreviations in that they are
proper words created from the initial letter or two of the words in a
phrase, and they are pronounced like other words. On the other
hand, abbreviations do not form proper words, and so they are
pronounced as strings of letters.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) sent troops to an
African country to put down a rebellion.
One of my favorite groups of the 70s was ABBA. (The name
of this 1970s Swedish pop group was derived from the first
names of the group's members: Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and

Combining form
This is a form of a word that has its own meaning but is used only in combination with
other words to make new words, for example -footed in 'a four-footed animal'.

Combining forms are often called affixes, but a

combining form can make a word by adding an affix.

We use a thermometer every day. Thermometer

combines therm meaning heat with meter meaning a
way of measuring.
He has an old phonograph player from years ago to
play his collection of records. Phonograph
combines phon meaning "sound," with
graph meaning "to write."
He made a graphic design of his apartment. We
have formed a word by attaching the
suffix ic to graph. A "graphic" is a picture or a
writing or drawing.
Phrasal Verbs
Phrasal verbs are part of a large group of verbs called multi-part
or "multi-word verbs.
The preposition or adverb that follows the verb is sometimes called
a particle.
Phrasal verbs and other multi-word verbs are an important part of
the English language.
However, they are mainly used in spoken English and informal
I made up an excuse.
My car broke down.
My sister and I get along together well.

This chapter has illustrated various ways in which an English word may
itself be composed of words. In Chapter 7 I will have more to say about
a fact that I have not emphasised so far: one or both of the component
words in a compound may itself be a compound, so there is in principle
no upper limit to the size of compounds. We have also seen that at least
one syntactic relationship can be expressed within compounds just

as well as within sentences, namely the verbobject relationship (or

perhaps one should say the actiongoal relationship), as in hair restorer.
One might ask, then, why English, or any language, needs both compound word-structure and clause-structure side by side: could not just
one do the work performed in actual English by both? That is an important question, but unfortunately one for which there is no generally
agreed answer. Further discussion of it is therefore a task for research


The differences between compound forms should be studied in depth and phrasal
verbs should be learned separately. It is essential in informal speech to use phrasal
verbs and, for academic writing other compound forms such as acronyms should be

papers, rather than for an introductory textbook such as this.