Stress

English Pronunciation

Compound Word Stress

A compound noun is created when two or more words (often an initial noun or an adjective that modifies a final noun) are joined together or used adjacent to one another so often that the combination of words is interpreted as a single noun. Closed compounds are the easiest to recognize because they look like a single word. However, open compounds, where a space remains between the words, are also quite common in English.

When compound nouns are spoken aloud, the first word usually receives more stress than the second word.

Closed compound Open compound
baseball
bus pass

If the first word of a compound noun is more than one syllable in length, the normally stressed syllable of the first word is the most stressed syllable of the entire compound. For instance, in the open compound roller coaster the roll syllable receives the most stress in the entire compound because that is the normally stressed syllable of the first word.

3+ syllable compounds
roller  coaster

Examples of Compound Nouns

Closed compound nouns Open compound nouns
newspaper dining room
footprint credit card
classroom middle school
grandmother bus pass
birthday swimming pool
bathroom stop sign
keyboard solar power
policemen fire alarm
sunburn golf ball
waterfall security guard

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Exercises

High-frequency Compound Nouns

Pronuncian Lessons

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