Preparing for the oposiciones: phrasal nouns.

Phrasal Nouns

Sometimes nouns are derived from phrasal and prepositional verbs, and many are widely  used nowadays,  esp. in the language of journalism and other professions (photography, cinema, etc.); they are usually called phrasal nouns:

back-up - (inform.) copia de seguridad (de un programa o documento)
breakdown - avería; depresión nerviosa.

As you can see by the examples above, there's no fixed rule concerning their spelling. Contrary to the phrasal verbs they derive from, which are spelt in two words, phrasal nouns are spelt with a hyphen or in one word:

walkout (huelga) (as against to walk out - ponerse en huelga)
kick-off (saque inicial en un partido de fútbol o inauguración de un evento) (as against to kick off - hacer el saque inicial o inaugurar un evento)

and sometimes, both spellings are found: checkup/check-up (chequeo médico), though it can be said that the tendency nowadays is to spell them in one word, esp. when the verb in monosyllabic.


Complete the sense with a suitable phrasal noun. I give you the initial letter in each sentence:

1.- Recently a significant b.......... was announced in the search for a cure for cancer.
2.- There was a m........ over the time of the interview which resulted in his losing the job.
3.- The plan has suffered a s.......... Our sponsor has withdrawn his support.
4.- We're going to have a family g...........next Sunday to discuss that matter.
5.- Before the elections, I usually receive hundreds of h...........


1.- breakthrough; 2.- mix-up; 3.- setback; 4.- get-together; 5.- handouts.

For more phrasal nouns, see Appendix 9, pp. 726-730, in my Gramática Inglesa, 9ª ed., Pearson. 

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