I couldn't help but wonder every time I saw such a noun phrase. I've seen both forms used equally often, so I guess both of them can be used interchangeably. But do I guess right?

Some examples:

Here is a frequently used compound nouns list.

Here is a frequently used compound noun list.

I usually rephrase them into something like this.

Here is a reference list of compound nouns.


2 Answers 2


All are correct.

But are the compound nouns frequently used, or is the list frequently used?

If it's important to state 'frequently', here are some possible alternatives:

If the compound nouns are frequently used:

Here is a list of frequently used compound nouns.

Here is a list of compound nouns that are frequently used.

If the list is frequently used:

Here is a list of compound nouns, that is frequently used.

Here is a frequently used list of compound nouns. (this one still slightly ambiguous)

  • Thank you for the explanation. What I wonder now is that, if all are correct, which is the one a native speaker would use naturally? BTW, is there any implication (such as American dialect vs. English dialect or social/educational backgrounds) we can deduce from each usage? Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 15:40
  • This doesn't address the question at all, which is asking about the correctness of using a plural-form attributive noun here. donkey sanctuary v donkeys sanctuary // dog home v dogs home Commented Apr 21, 2020 at 11:20

I will ignore the context of the examples, which John discussed. To get a better feeling, I would use simpler examples, e.g. a verb list vs. a verbs list. The former seems to be preferable, so I would prefer compound noun list. BTW: the segmentation of the compound would be ((compound noun) list), which makes it parallel to (verb list).

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    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 10:39
  • Like donkey sanctuary v donkeys sanctuary. But then we have dog home v dogs home. // The default choice for an attributive noun being the singular form (though the usages aren't count: *'a 3 [-] dogs home') has been thoroughly addressed in other threads. Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 11:47

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