Jonathan Marks offers a pronunciation activity, with a helpful key for teachers, that focuses on pronouncing stress in compound nouns.


A lot of names of jobs consist of compound nouns with the stress on the first element. For example, someone who drives a bus is a bus-driver, and someone whose job is to put out fires is a fire-fighter.

Work in pairs. Take turns to ask answer the questions, making compounds from lists 1 and 2. Remember to put the stress on the first element. (NB: one of the words in list 2 is used twice.)

What do you call ...

  1. someone who drives a taxi?
  2. someone in charge of a shop?
  3. someone who looks after your children when you go out?
  4. the player who guards the goal in a football match?
  5. a teacher who teaches English?
  6. someone who plays records on the radio or at a disco?
  7. someone in charge of a bank?
  8. someone who buys and sells houses?
  9. someone who directs films?
  10. someone who plays jazz?
  11. someone who appears on TV to tell you what the weather's going to be like?
  12. someone who looks after a building, such as a school?
  13. someone who sings folk songs?
  14. someone who reads the news on the TV or radio?
  15. someone who dances ballet?
List 1 List 2
shop reader
estate manager
taxi driver
news dancer
bank forecaster
care director
weather jockey
English taker
goal agent
folk singer
film sitter
ballet keeper
jazz teacher
baby musician




















1. a taxi driver
2. a shopkeeper
3. a baby-sitter
4. a goalkeeper
5. an English teacher
6. a disc-jockey
7. a bank manager
8. an estate agent
9. a film director
10. a jazz musician
11. a weather forecaster
12. a caretaker
13. a folk-singer
14. a newsreader
15. a ballet dancer

NB There's a lot of inconsistency about whether these compounds are written as one word, as two words or with a hyphen. For example, some people would write 'taxi-driver' or 'folksinger'.