A noun phrase always has a noun or a pronoun. It could have only one word. That word can be a noun or a pronoun.
- Peter cooks every day.
- He cooks every day.
- Meat is cheap.
- It is cheap.
A noun phrase is made up of more than one word. Also, a noun or a pronoun is the headword that acts as the head of the noun phrase, while other words describe or modify the headword.
Words that exist before the headword are called Pre-modifiers. They include:
- The man (determiner is “the”, headword is “man”)
- That lady
- A dog
- Some eggs
Also, a pronoun can also head a noun phrase
- The man cooks every day.
- He cooks every day.
“He” in the sentence is a noun phrase.
One or More Adjectives
- Smart guys (“smart” is the modifier which is an adjective and “guys” is the noun)
- Smart slim guys (“smart” and “slim” are the modifiers which are adjectives and “guys” is the noun)
- Smart slim handsome guys (“smart” , “slim” and “handsome” are the modifiers which are adjectives and “guys” is the noun)
A Number or Another Noun or The Present Participle or Past Participle of a Verb
- Five years. (“five” is a number; “years” is a noun)
- The police station. (“police” is a noun; “station” is another noun)
- An annoying behaviour. (“annoying” is the present participle; “behaviour” is the noun)
- A broken bottle. (“broken” is the past participle; “bottle” is the noun)
Post modifiers appear after the headwords. They include:
A Prepositional Phrase (a noun phrase with a preposition in front of it).
- The man in the room.
- The view from the staircase.
- The car beside the house.
A Subordinate Clause (typically beginning with who, which or that)
- All the men who had stopped there finally moved.
- Cake that has been open too long can become spoilt.
- The prince charming. (“prince” is the noun; “charming” is the adjective)
Functions of Noun Phrases
A noun phrase functions as a subject, an object, or a complement of a sentence.
Subject of a Verb
This is the part of the sentence that mentions the person or object doing the action (or verb). It is usually at the beginning of the sentence.
- The man in the car called her.
Therefore, “The man in the car” is the subject of the verb “called”.
Object of a Verb
This part of the sentence portrays the person or the thing that is affected by the verb.
- She journeyed on the bumpy ride.
Here, “the bumpy ride” is the object of the verb “journeyed”.
Complement of a Verb
The complement of a verb could be a subject complement and an object complement.
A subject complement is a word or phrase that gives more information about the subject. It follows a linking verb.
- He is a teacher.
“A teacher” is the subject complement, giving more information to the subject “He”.
An object complement is a word or phrase that provides additional information about the object.
- A doctor has a stethoscope.
“A doctor” is the object complement, providing additional information to the object “a stethoscope”.
Noun Phrase with Adjective
Here, noun phrases consist of words that function as adjectives.
- The fish tank is dirty.
- The British Airways flight to London has landed.
Noun Phrase as a Participle
Noun phrases can function as participles within sentences.
- They showed the pipe to the plumber fixing the kitchen sink.
- Having been a teacher, she could draft a lesson note.
Noun Phrase with Plus-To Infinitive
Noun phrases with to-infinitives depict a probability or necessity.
- The skill to manage time is essential for you. (the to-infinitive “to manage time” follows the noun phrase “the skill”)
- Their plan to relocate was futile. (the to-infinitive “to relocate” comes after the noun phrase “their plan”)
Noun Phrase as a Prepositional Phrase
Noun phrases act as prepositional phrases.
- He passed down the dark alleyway.
- They hurried through the huge crowd.
Noun Phrase as an Absolute Phrase to a Subject
Noun phrases function as absolute phrases for particular subjects.
- His mind full of worries, he followed the man to the police station.
- They danced at the beach with their legs covered with sand.