The Noun Phrase

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The Noun Phrase

The noun phrase refers to a group of related words without a finite verb that has a noun as the headword. Or, a noun phrase is a group of related words that have a noun function.
Examples; the wicked man, the stubborn, the three handsome boys etc.

Structure of the Noun Phrase

Let us study the following examples;
i. The boys
ii. All the boys
iii. All the three boys
iv. All the three intelligent boys
v. All the three intelligent boys in the class

The examples above illustrate the possible structures of a noun phrase, so, we shall examine them one after the other to arrive at a general structure for the NOUN PHRASE.

Structures of the examples above;
i. (Det.) + H
ii. (Det.) + (Det.) + H
iii. (Det.) + (Det.) + (Det.) + H
iv. (Det.) + (Det.) + (Det.) + (Mod) + H
v. (Det.) + (Det.) + (Det.) + (Mod.) + H + (Mod.)

From the examples above, the possible constituents of a noun phrase structure are; (Determiners) + (Modifier) + Headword + (Modifier)

The maximum number of determiners that may be present in a noun phrase structure is three; these determiners are divided into; Pre Determiners, Central Determiners and Post Determiners. We also have a modifier before the headword and a modifier after the headword, so we will classify them, those before the headword as, Pre modifiers and those after the headword as post modifiers. So, the constituent structure for a complete noun phrase is;
(Pre.D) + (Cen.D) + (Pst.D) + (Pre.M) + Headword + (Pst.M)

Note; All constituents are in bracket except the Headword. The constituents are in brackets because they are optional in the structure of a noun phrase, that means, one may not necessarily see some or all of them in some noun phrases.
However, the Headword in the structure of a noun phrase is mandatory, that is why it is not in bracket. Every noun phrase has a noun or a pronoun as the Headword.

Pre Determiners

Words that can be used as Pre determiners in the structure of a noun phrase are; All, both, such, half, double, one-fourth etc.

i. (All) boys,
ii. (such) boys,
iii. (both) men etc.

Central Determiners

Words that can occur as central determiners in the structure of a noun phrase are; an, the, a, that, this, those etc.
Note; Central determiners come after the Pre determiners.
i. (All) (the) boys,
ii. (such) (a) girl etc.

Post Determiners

Examples of words that can occur as post determiners in a noun phrase structure are;
Ordinals; first, second, third etc.
Cardinals; one, two, three etc.
Quantifiers; many, few, a few etc.
Note; The post determiners come after the central determiners.

Usage Examples

i. (All) (the) (three) boys
ii. (All) (the) (first) men etc.

Pre Modifiers

Words that can occur as Pre modifiers in the structure of a noun phrase are;
a. Nouns; ancient, history, computer, etc.

Usage Examples;
i. (All) (the) (three) (ancient) boys.
ii. (All) (the) (first) (computer) games

b. Adjectives; active, beautiful, handsome etc.

Usage Examples
i. (All) (the) (four) (beautiful) girls
ii. (All) (the) (first) (reliable) teachers

c. Adverbs; up, above, inside, then etc.

Usage Example
i. (All) (the) (four) (inside) stories

Post Modifiers

The following are the common structures that can occur as the post modifiers of a noun phrase;

a. Prepositional Phrases;
Usage Examples
i. (The) children (in the building).
ii. (The) boy (at the gate).

b. Adverbs; e.g there, below, here etc.
Usage Examples
i. (The) man (there)
ii. (The) table (below)
iii. (The) lady (here)

c. Non-finite clauses
Usage Examples;
i. (The) (first) lady (to arrive)
ii. (The) (four) men (to kill today)

d. Finite Clauses
Usage Examples;
i. (The) man (who came)
ii. (The) boy (who broke the plate)

Functions of the Noun Phrase

The noun phrase can function as any of the following;

A. Subject

The meaning of subject and other functions of nouns can be found here;

Usage Examples
i. The beautiful lady has come home
ii. The wicked man in the house stole my car.
iii. All the three notorious armed robbers in the town have been killed.
iv. Something extraordinary will happen.
v. The man who came here is a teacher

B. Direct Object

Usage Examples;
i. She insulted the modest teacher.

ii. They demolished all the old buildings in the community.

iii. Hakouru respected all the intelligent teachers who taught her.

iv. Suhuyini inspected all the the important documents for the exam.

v. The teacher accepted some unnecessary questions in his class.

C. Indirect Object

Usage Examples

i. The man bought the wife an expensive car.

ii. The students wrote the most hardworking teacher a birthday letter.

iii. She gave all the ten intelligent students in the school money.

iv. My uncle sent his senior at the college a pair of trousers.

D. Subject Complement

Usage Examples

i. Sulemana is a humble student.

ii. Juasuglo is the most hardworking man alive.

iii. The children were brave hunters.

iv. He was the youngest professor of the department of foreign languages.

E. Object Complement

Usage Examples

i. The students called their teacher nice names.

ii. The woman named her husband the young Isaac Newton.

iii. The citizens elected the man the worst president in the history of the country.

iv. Students must consider their teachers their second parents.

F. Object of a preposition or prepositional complement

Usage Examples

i. The students came from the largest city in West Africa.

ii. She called me into the inner room.

iii. The woman is unfaithful to her kind husband.

iv. Sumaya was angry with her disobedient children.

G. Appositive

Usage Examples

i. John Mahama, the former president of Ghana, has arrived at the hospital.

ii. Ibrahim, the Senior prefect of the school has been consistent with his orders.

iii. They arrived in Accra, the capital city of Ghana.

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