by Writer"s Relief Staff | Mar 16, 2022 | Grammar and Usage, Proofreading, Submit Your Writing | 7 comments

Knowing just how to identify and spell compound words deserve to occasionally be tricky. Hyphen or no hyphen? One word or two? Here are some tips to assist you correctly form compound nouns and also adjectives:

Definition: A compound word is created once two or more words join to create a brand-new word that has its own interpretation. Although compound words are frequently created as single words (such as teapot), sometimes they are not. That’s why it is essential to understand that tright here are three forms of compound words: closed compounds, hyphenated compounds, and open compounds. Let’s take a look at each of them:

Closed Compounds definition: compounds composed as single words (newspaper, goldfish, highway)

Hyphenated Compounds definition: compounds that are hyphenated (mother-in-law, second-rate, court-martial)

Open Compounds definition: compounds written as separate words (finish zone, high college, wellness care)

Sometimes understanding once to compose compounds as single words, hyphenated words, or sepaprice words is tough. That’s bereason some compound words change their form based on their function in a certain sentence.

You are watching: Is highschool one word or two

For instance, as soon as offered as a noun, backup is created as one word: The police officer called for backup. However, once the very same compound word is offered as a verb, it is composed as two words (ago up): Did you ago up your computer files? When provided as an adjective, backup is one word: What is your backup arrangement for tomorrow evening?

Hence, the initially reminder for knowledge just how to compose a compound word is discovering the word’s attribute in the sentence. Let’s take a look at a couple of more examples of this:

1. handout: As Jill was walking down the street, a guy gave her a handout declaring a totally free concert in the park. (Here, handout is a noun.)

2. hand also out: John handed out the flyers. (Here, handed out is a verb.)

3. upside down: The cake landed upside dvery own. (Here, upside down is an adverb informing exactly how the cake landed.)

4. upside-down: The upside-dvery own poster announced a cost-free concert in the park. (Here, upside-down is an adjective describing poster.)

When in doubt around the spelling of a compound word, you need to first consult a dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster, which will list the proper spellings based on the word’s attribute in the sentence.

You will uncover, also, that many type of compound words are constantly spelled one method, regardmuch less of their attribute. For example, according to Merriam-Webster, high school is composed as 2 words regardmuch less of whether it is provided as a noun—Peggy has just began high school—or an adjective—Peggy is a high college student.

The confusion occurs when the compound word is not discovered in the dictionary. (Also watch Commjust Confsupplied Words and also More Missupplied (and also Mistreated) Words.) Then, authors need to depend on their judgment to ensure that their intfinished meaning is maintained.


Here are some tips to aid you resolve compound words that are not in the dictionary:

1. Hyphenate the compound word if its interpretation will be ambiguous without the hyphen.

Example: Dr. Lawrence, a small-tvery own practitioner, was the initially official to arrive on the scene. (Here, the hyphen is necessary; without it, readers may think that the practitioner was a small man, quite than a practitioner that works in a small town.)

2. Never hyphenate compound words that are produced through -ly adverbs.

Example: Tammy and Bob bought the recently renovated home on Main Street.

3. Hyphenate the facets of a compound adjective that occurs before a noun.

Example: They attended a black-tie affair.

Note: The complying with kinds of compound adjectives virtually constantly need to be hyphenated:

Noun + adjective (tax-exempt), Noun + participle (government-owned), Adjective + participle (friendly-looking), Adjective + noun + ed (high-priced)

The Bottom Line: Compound Word Rules Made EasyRemember these points as soon as working via compound words, and also you must have actually no trouble with their spelling:

1. There are 3 forms of compound words: closed compounds, hyphenated compounds, and also open compounds.

2. If you are in doubt about the spelling of a compound word, you have to inspect a dictionary prior to you use any kind of other guidelines.

3. Hyphenate if ambiguity will certainly outcome without the hyphen.

4. Never before hyphenate -ly adverbs.

See more: What Does Mami Mean In Spanish To English, What Does It Mean When A Guy Calls You Mami

NOTE: If compound words are still constarting you, Writer’s Relief can assist. Due to the fact that 1994, authors have actually been using our proofanalysis and also formatting services to make sure their subgoals are clean and professional—and also grammatically correct!—offering their work-related its best swarm at publication.