Type 4: Special Noun + Noun  STRESS ON THE SECOND WORD

"Word Combination Lists" Start Page

Type 4 Start Page

Page 1:  4a.

Page 2:  4b

Page 3:  4c.

Page 4:  4d.

Page 5:  4e.

4d: The thing represented by the compound noun is both the first noun and the second noun, at the same time.

For example, science fiction (both science and fiction) and waste paper  (both waste and paper).

In the 4d. examples, it is quite obvious that the first noun is attempting to express an adjectival idea, more obvious than in the 4a, 4b and 4c examples. In fact, it is possible that some of these originally used adjectives as the first word. For example, possibly "science fiction" was originally "scientific fiction" and "luxury apartment" was originally "luxurious apartment" with the first words having evolved into shorter forms just to make it easier to say them.

However, it seems that most of these 4d examples have nouns as the first word simply because English doesn't have a suitable single adjective to express the exact meaning.

Many of you reading this might not recognize that the first word in these examples is a noun. Even some native English speakers might be confused. The reason for this is that some of these words are so frequently used this way that people start to think of them as adjectives. For example, "waste" in "waste paper" is a noun and "giant" in "Giant Panda" is also a noun. In fact, although my Oxford dictionary says that these (and the other first words in the examples on that page) are nouns, when you go to the MacMillan online dictionary website, you will see that MacMillan is starting to call many of these words both a noun and an adjective. This is an example of language evolution, or at least changes in language classification that reflect the reality of language evolution.

Many of these examples could also fit into the 4e group, which is the group where the first noun represents an adjective. For example, a "a giant tortoise" = a very big tortoise.


The Way You Say it Can Change the Meaning

A dog doctor   (Type 4 stress pattern. This means, "both a dog and a doctor, at the same time".)

A dog doctor   (Type 1 stress pattern. "Dog" is here used to represent the type of doctor.)

(Usually called, "a vet" or, "a veterinary surgeon" we don't usually say, "a dog doctor" in English. This example is here just to show you the idea that intonation affects meaning.)


Student and Apprentice

Here, "student" means "a trainee" or "someone who is studying for a profession". This is a different usage to "student" as in, "the student dormitory", which is shown on Page 2.

a student nurse

a student doctor

a student teacher

an apprentice carpenter  (an "apprentice" is a trainee for a trade)

an apprentice chef

a novice film-maker (a "novice" is a person who is new to doing something)

a novice chess-player

a student driver (U.S.)


a student athlete

This example means, "a student who is also an athlete". This is not referring to a profession the student is preparing for.


Some "Young" Words 

a "boy wonder"

a baby bird

a baby doll

a baby elephant

a boy scout  (an organization in the West is called, "The Boy Scouts")

a boy soldier 

a boy soprano

a boy wonder

a child actor

a child dancer

a child prodigy  

a girl guide  (an organization in the West is called, "The Girl Guides")

an infant son

a girl Friday



The noun "toy" is here used to represent the adjectival ideas of "not real" and "entertaining".

a toy train

a toy soldier

a toy gun

a toy rabbit



(My Oxford dictionary says "model" is a noun but the MacMillan online dictionary says it can be called an adjective when used as shown below.)

For a), the noun "model" (模型 ) is here used to represent the adjectival ideas of "small" and "copied exactly".

For b), the noun "model" (模范) is here used to represent the adjectival idea of "exemplary".


a model plane

a model ship

a model car

a model railway


a model student

a model teacher

a model worker

a model citizen

a model husband



The noun, "woman" is used to represent the adjective, "female".

a woman doctor 

a woman driver



a pet dog

a pet cat



waste paper 



science fiction  (the noun, "science" represents "scientific")



The noun, "veteran" means "a very experienced person", (especially a soldier).

a veteran competitor (比如: a veteran tennis player)

a veteran reporter 



the/a Giant Panda  

a giant tortoise

a giant tree



an amateur photographer

amateur dramatics



a master artist

a master calligrapher



The noun, "luxury" is perhaps a shortened form of the adjective, "luxurious".

a luxury apartment  = a luxury flat

a luxury car

a luxury hotel

luxury goods

(But: a luxury liner is Type 1)



a rogue trader

a rogue site

a rogue state


One of the two nouns is a verbal-noun

a walking tour  This is both a tour and the activity of walking.

a working holiday  This is both a holiday and the activity of working.

It is possible to mistakenly think of the two words, "walking" and "working" as adjectives (derived from the present participle). But logic says that the tour is not "in the process of walking" (正在走) and the holiday is not "in the process of working" (正在工作) - a tour and a holiday cannot do things! Therefore, a "walking tour" is both a tour and the activity of walking and  "working holiday" is both a holiday and the activity of working.


Other Examples

a screen door

foam rubber

plate glass

poison gas  (In this example, the noun, "poison" is possibly the shorted form of the adjective, "poisonous")

a box lunch  (The noun, "box" is the shorted form of the adjective, "boxed")

a courtesy phone

shock therapy = shock treatment (Type 1)

macaroni cheese (This is a dish. It is not Type 4a because the cheese is not made of macaroni. Think of it as a meal composed of both macaroni and cheese.)

a surprise party (Also can be Type 1)

a/the target language

an absentee landlord

a celebrity chef

a ball bearing

a radio telescope

the lead singer

a crash landing

a trick question



a desert island  This is perhaps more closely related to the adjective, "deserted" (= no people) than to the idea of  "a desert", which is a dry, usually sandy place, with few or no people.



a migrant worker

This term is used in China. As with many examples of "noun + noun", British people and those influenced more by British English than American English pronounce it with the stress on "worker". Americans and those influenced more by American English pronounce it with the stress on "migrant".


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