Compound words (palabras compuestas) are words made up from two or more words. Spanish language loves compound words – the longer the better. Read this article to learn couple of new Spanish compound words which helps you to study Spanish.

The two words that make up a compound word are usually a verb and a noun. The verb is in 3rd person singular and the noun is in plural (in most cases). However, this doesn’t mean that the whole compound word is in plural. The best way to know whether a word is singular or plural is to look at the article (el,la is for singular nouns, los, las for plural nouns):

Abrir + botellas = el abrebotellas (bottle opener), los abrebotellas (bottle openers)

Note that most compound words in Spanish are masculine even if the noun that forms the compound word is feminine (just like the example above).

El guardaropa (wardrobe) = guardar (keep) + ropa (clothes)
El rompecabezas (puzzle) = romper (break) + cabezas (heads)
El salvavidas (life jacket) = salvar (save) + vidas (lives)
El lavaplatos (dishwasher) = lavar (wash) + platos (dishes)
El sacapuntas (pencil sharpener) = sacar (get) + puntas (points, tips)

El bienestar (well-being) =bien (well) + estar (being) – here the word is made up from an adverb and a verb

Some compound words are complicated to write and pronounce and it’s obvious that they are made up from two words, but there are many words that you surely know but had no idea it’s not one word only.

El girasol (sunflower) = girar (turn) + sol (sun)
El cumpleaños (birthday) =cumplir (complete, reach) + años (years)
El parasol (sunshade) = parar (stop) + sol (sun)
El rascacielos (skyscraper) = rascar (scrape) + cielos (sky)

As you can see, in Spanish the compound words are always written as one word whereas in English we can write them as one word, two words or using hyphen.

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