noun + noun

  • Structure
      It is very common in English to put two nouns together without a preposition.
      tennis shoes a sheepdog the car door orange juice The first noun is like an adjective in some ways. Compare:
      a race-horse ( = a sort of horse) a horse-race ( = a sort of race)
      a flower garden ( = a sort of garden) a garden flower ( = a sort of flower)
      milk chocolate ( = something to eat) chocolate milk ( = something to drink)
      The first noun is usually singular in form, even if the meaning is plural.
      a shoe-shop a bus-stop (NOT -Some common short noun + noun expressions are written as one word (for example sheepdog). Others are written with a hyphen (for example horse-race) or separately (for example milk chocolate). There are no very clear rules, and we can often write an expression in more
      than one way. To find out what is correct in a particular case, look in a
      good dictionary.
  • Meaning
      The first noun can modify the second in many different ways.
      It can say what the second is made of or from:
      milk chocolate a glass bowl
      or where it is:
      a table lamp Oxford University or when it happens: a daydream afternoon tea
      or what it is for:
      car keys a conference room
  • Noun + noun -I- noun -I- noun …
      We can put three, four or more nouns in a group.
      road accident research centre ( = a centre for research into accidents on roads)
      Newspaper headlines often have this structure.
  • Other structures
      It is not always easy to know whether to use the noun + noun structure (for example the chair back), the o/-structure (for example the back of his head) or the possessive structure (for example John’s back). The rules are very complicated; experience will tell you which is the correct structure in a particular case.