- 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
- 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
- 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.
HELICOPTER CRASH PILOTDEA TH FEAR
- 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.