Noun Phrases

What is a noun phrase?

A noun phrase is a phrase which includes:

  1. a noun (also called head)
  2. and optionally modifiers.


  • Love is a beautiful feeling. (Love is a noun phrase without modifiers. However, a beautiful feeling is a noun phrase that includes a noun, feeling, and the determiner a and the adjective beautiful)
  • My house is over there. (My house is a noun phrase which consists of the noun house and a modifier - the possessive adjective my)

Possible noun modifiers

A noun phrase may optionally contain noun modifiers. If these modifiers are placed before the noun they are called pre-modifiers. However, if they are placed after the noun, they are called post-modifiers. Possible noun modifiers include the following:

1. Determiners

In English, determiners are usually placed before the noun;

2. adjectives (the delicious food)

3. complements, in the form of a prepositional phrase (such as: the student of physics), or a That-clause (the idea  that the world is a small village )

Functions of a noun phrase

Noun phrases can function as subjects, objects:

  1. That sophisticated woman is beautiful. (That sophisticated woman is a noun phrase that functions as a subject.)
  2. I like the book that you bought. (the book that you bought is a noun phrase that functions as an object.)

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