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Unit 16. 'News,paper and ,Absolute 'Zero.

Stress in Compound Nouns

Unit 16; Part A

A compound noun is a fixed expression which is made up of more than one word and which has the function of a noun. Some are written as two words, some with a hyphen, and some as one word:

     'crash ,barrier       ,double-'glazing        'baby,sitter
Notice that some compound nouns have main stress on the first part and others have main stress on the second part.

Unit 16; Part B

The following types of compound noun usually have main stress on the first part:
  • noun + noun
'arms race          
'fire ex,tinguisher      
'poverty ,trap
Exceptions: infor,mation  tech'nology  ,town 'hall  ,family 'doctor

Notice, however, that if the first part gives the material that the second part is made out of, main stress usually goes on the second part.
        ,cotton 'wool    but:   a 'cotton ,plant
Exceptions are most compounds ending with -cake, -bread and -juice:
        'cheesecake  'gingerbread  'orange ,juice

  • noun + -ing form
          'bird-,watching    'house-,hunting    'fly-,fishing
Exceptions: pe,destrian 'crossing  ,ball 'bearing, ,thanks'giving

  • -ing form + noun
          'dressing ,gown    'sitting ,room    'freezing ,point
Exceptions: ,managing di'rector  de,fining 'moment  ,casting 'vote

  • verb + noun
          'search ,party    con'trol ,tower    'think ,tank

note.jpgNote: Other phrases may have the same forms, but are not compounds. In these, main stress usually goes on the second word. Compare:
'driving ,licence (a compound)    but: ,driving 'rain (a normal adjective + noun)

Unit 16; Part C

Most adjective + noun compound nouns have main stress on the second part and secondary stress on the first part:
       ,social se'curity    ,hot po'tato    ,absolute 'zero
Exceptions: 'blind spot  'dental ,floss  'easy ,chair  ' broadband  'greenhouse
Note that this includes:
  • adjective + -ing form
      ,central 'heating    global 'warming   ,passive 'smoking 
  • past participle + noun
      ,split in'finitive    in,verted 'commas   ,lost 'property



flag.jpgDo these compounds have main stress on their first part or their second part? Underline the syllable with the main stress. (Hint: Think about whether they are noun + noun compounds or adjective + noun compounds.)
Examples:  safety valve (noun + noun)
                  guilty party (adjective + noun)
1    chemical formula           
2    bank account       
3    American football       
4    artifcial intelligence
5    coffee shop
6    best man 
7    mobile phone
8    fight attendant          
9      sofa bed
10    magnetic feld
11    tea strainer
12    space station

Now listen and check your answers. Then say the words aloud. 
flag.jpgUse the compounds in the box to answer the questions. Think carefully about where main stress is placed and say your answers aloud. (Some of the words are given in B and C opposite.)
1 voicemail    
2 a paper towel       
3 a civil war       
4 a greenhouse      
5 an ice rink 
6 distance learning   
7 a loudspeaker
8 a hot potato
9 a claim form 
10 house-hunting
11 a town hall
12 a pay phone
13 a defning moment   
14 orange juice  
15 lipstick
16 boiling point
17 a search party
18 a shop assistant
19 dental floss
20 a rubber band

boiling point    civil war    claim form    defining moment    dental floss    distance learning    greenhouse    hot potato    house-hunting    ice rink   lipstick    loudspeaker    orange juice    pay phone    rubber band     search party    shop assistant    paper towel    town hall    voicemail 

What is ...   
1    a system that records phone messages for you?  →  voicemail
2    a sheet of thick paper for drying your hands?        
3    battles between different groups of people living in the same country?
4    a building made of glass used for growing plants?
5    a level area of ice for people to skate on?
6    a way of studying where you mainly study at home?
7    a piece of equipment that sound comes out of?
8    a problem that no-one wants to deal with?
9    a legal document that you use to try to get compensation from an organisation?
10   the activity of looking for a house to live in?
11   a building where the local government usually meets?
12   a public telephone that you have to put money in to use?
13   a point at which a situation clearly starts to change?
14   a drink made from crushed oranges?
15   a coloured substance that women put on their lips?
16   the temperature at which liquid becomes a gas?
17   a group of people who look for someone who is missing?
18   someone who serves customers in a shop?
19   thread used for cleaning between the teeth?
20   a ring of rubber for holding things together?

Now listen and check your answers. Which five compounds are exceptions to the rules in B and C opposite?

Follow up: Listen compound nouns commonly used in a subject that interests you (e.g. an academic subject, or a hobby). Make sure you know where the main stress falls in each. Add to the list when you find new compound nouns in the subject.

Unit 15      Unit 16     Unit 17 forward.jpg

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