What Are Noun Phrases?
Noun phrases are groups of words that function as a noun in a sentence. They typically consist of a noun, which is the headword of the phrase, and any modifiers or determiners that provide additional information about the noun.
Structure of a Noun Phrase
Noun phrases include a head noun , which is the main noun that the phrase refers to, and any modifiers that provide additional information about the noun.
Modifiers in a noun phrase can come before or after the head noun.
As mentioned above, pre-modifiers come before the head noun and modify it. The following list represents different kinds of pre-modifiers:
Now, we will discuss each of them in more detail.
Possessive nouns are used to indicate possession or ownership of something or someone, or to show the relationship between people. Possessive nouns are typically used as pre-modifiers before the head noun in a noun phrase. For example:
Haven't you seen Sarah's
Here, the 'book shop' is the compound head noun and 'Sarah's' is the possessive noun modifying it.
Some nouns can function as modifiers within a noun phrase, providing additional information about the head noun. These nouns modify the head noun in a similar way to adjectives or other modifiers. Look at the examples below:
Dad has cooked us a
Here, 'tomato' is a noun modifying 'soup'.
Have you ever tried
Attributive Predicative Adjectives
Adjectives can be used to modify the head noun in a noun phrase by providing additional information about its qualities, characteristics, or attributes. For example:
Hannah and I wanted to watch a
Determiners are a type of word that can be used as pre-modifiers in a noun phrase to provide information about the head noun. Determiners indicate the specificity, quantity, or possession of the head noun Look at the examples below:
As you can see, 'those' is a determiner that indicates specificity and 'cats' is the head noun.
You left your book at
Here, 'my' is a determiner that shows possession and 'place' is the head noun.
As mentioned above, some modifiers come after the head noun and describe it. Below is a list of the most common post-modifiers in English:
Now, let us examine each closely:
As you may know, non-finite clauses are subordinate clauses that do not have a specific tense or subject. They are typically formed using infinitives or participles.
Non-finite clauses can serve a variety of functions within a sentence, such as acting as the subject or object of a verb, or providing additional information about the main clause. Look at the examples below to see how 'non-finite' clauses can be used to modify the head noun:
Here, an infinitive has been used as a post-modifiers to describe the head noun which is 'place'.
Look at that fluffy dog
Here, a present participle is modifying the head noun 'dog'.
Prepositional phrases can be used to modify the head noun in a noun phrase by providing information about its location, time, or other related details. Prepositional phrases are formed using a preposition followed by a noun or pronoun, which is known as the object of the preposition. Take a look at the following examples:
Somebody quiet down that dog
No one has ever been in that room
A relative clause is a type of clause that provides additional information about a noun or pronoun in a sentence. Relative clauses are introduced by a relative pronoun or a relative adverb. Relative clauses can function as either restrictive or non-restrictive clauses. Look at the following examples:
A restrictive relative clause
A non-restrictive relative clause.
Noun phrases can serve different functions. Look at the list below:
Now, let us see examples of how a noun phrase can fulfill these functions:
I don't need
My girlfriend cooked me
It might come in handy to know that a noun phrase can sometimes have only one noun with no modifiers. Look:
Here, 'Archie' is a noun phrase and is the object of the sentence.
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