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7. Noun-modified Nouns and Compound Nouns

Normally adjectives before nouns modify nouns such as: handsome man, hard bed, spicy curry, red rose, narrow lane, sharp blade However just like Adjectives, Nouns too can modify nouns. Like adjectives, these modifiers too describe and provide more information about the following noun. However noun modifiers are mainly used for distinguishing a common noun. For example a tree can be distinguished from another tree by modifying it with nouns like mango, coconut, apple. Compound nouns are treated as single word unlike noun-modified nouns. Compound nouns behave more like Proper nouns. Unlike noun modifiers, choice of substituting with some other word doesn’t exist. For example ‘cotton plant’ is name of a plant unlike ‘cotton shirt’ or ‘polyester shirt’ which are not name of a shirt. One can say that noun modifiers help to identify subtypes. For example ‘animal protein’ and ‘plant protein’ are subtypes of the type ‘protein’. These subtypes can be based on make such as ‘glass bottle’ or origin like ‘cow ghee’ or function like ‘carpenter tools’ or character specialty like ‘contract labourer’. Thus ‘matchbox’ and ‘geometry box’ are compound words which are name of a box whereas ‘jewellery box’, ‘letter box’, ‘bangle box’ are not compound nouns being subtypes of ‘box’. Similarly ‘apple tree’ is a compound noun but ‘apple orchard’ is not. Two noun words can however be compound words where both the words together are treated as one word. Often it depends upon the context. Whether a two-noun word is compound or not may depend upon context. To get a sense, examine the following two sentences: What is for lunch today? Egg curry (Compound noun since it is name of food just like rice, bread or salad) What curry will you make for lunch? Egg curry (not a compound noun since egg curry is one of many subtypes of curries)

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