Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Noun Phrase

A noun phrase is a group of words that does the work of a noun. A noun phrase is either a pronoun or any group of words that can be replaced by a pronoun.

'they', 'bicycles', and 'the bicycles' are noun phrases, but 'bicycle' is just a noun, as you can see in the sentences below.
  • Q: Do you like bicycles?
  • A: Yes, I like them.
  • Q: Do you like the bicycles over there?
  • A: Yes, they are nice.
  • Q: Do you like the bicycle I bought last week?
  • A: Yes, I like it. (Note: 'It' refers to 'the bicycle', not 'bicycle')

Noun Premodifiers - Modifiers before the noun are called premodifiers. (modify means to limit, restrict, characterize, or otherwise focus meaning). All of the premodifiers that are present and the noun together form a noun phrase.

Noun Post-Modifiers - Modifiers coming after a noun are called post-modifiers.

Structures of Noun phrases

1. NOUN PHRASE: premodifiers + noun                                                                     
  • White house (white is a pre-modifier and house is a noun)                                                 
  • The three old Democratic legislators (the three old Democratic is pre-modifier and legislators is a noun)    
2. NOUN PHRASE: noun + post-modifiers 
(The most common post-modifiers are prepositional phrases).
  • The glass on the table. (on the table is the post-modifier)
  • The boy in the store. (in the store is the post-modifier)
3. NOUN PHRASE: pre-modifier + noun + post-modifier. 
The noun together with all pre and post-modifiers constitutes a single unit, a noun phrase that indicates the complete reference.
  • The boys on top of the house. (The is the pre-modifierboys is the noun, on top of the house is the post-modifier)