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The noun phrase - Easy Learning Grammar

A noun phrase is a word or group of words that can function as the subject, the object, or the complement in a sentence.
  • The manager interviewed all the applicants on Tuesday.
  • Lydia was the successful applicant.
See Direct and indirect objects and Complements for more information about these functions. A noun phrase must always contain a noun or a pronoun.A noun phrase may consist of only one word. That word will be either a noun or a pronoun.
  • Mary left late.
  • She left late.
  • Cheese is expensive.
  • It is expensive.
A noun phrase may consist of more than one word. One of these words, a noun or a pronoun, is the headword. The other words describe or modify the headword.
  • the tall girl
  • the very tall girl
  • a strikingly beautiful girl
  • the tall girl with green eyes
Words that go before the headword are called premodifiers. A noun can be premodified by:
the girlthat boy
a spidersome rice
  • tall girls
  • tall dark girls
  • tall dark handsome men
  • a number, another noun, or the present participle or past participle of a verb.
  • three days
  • the railway station buffet
  • an annoying habit
  • an overworked man
Words that go after the headword are called postmodifiers. A noun can be postmodified by:
  • a prepositional phrase (a noun phrase with a preposition in front of it).
  • the person in the corner
  • the view across the valley
  • the house opposite the church
  • creatures under the sea
  • a subordinate clause (usually one beginning with who, which or that). See Subordination.
  • All the women who had gathered there finally went away.
  • Milk that has been kept too long can go sour.
  • the princess royal
  • the president elect
  • Personal pronouns are only rarely premodified or postmodified. See Personal pronouns.
  • Silly me.
  • Poor old you.

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