I promised I would be back with an article on noun phrases and here I am, so glad to resume our conversation and journey through the captivating English Matrix towards clear havens of knowledge.


  1. What is a phrase?

However, we should first clarify what a phrase is, given that, lately, we have frequently used this term.

A phrase is a combination of words which appears in a set syntactic position or, in other words, a group of grammatically linked words without a subject and predicate.

In this wider context, today’s discussion, as previously mentioned, focuses on the topic of noun phrases.

  1. Noun phrases

A noun phrase or nominal phrase (NP) is a phrase which has a noun (or indefinite pronoun) as its head and which plays the role of a noun.

  • They perform the function of verb subjects and objects, of predicative expressions and of complements of prepositions.
  • They can be embedded inside each other


  • How to identify noun phrases?

Noun phrases can be easily identified by the possibility of replacing them with a pronoun.

I like always surprising the audience with an excellent performance.

I like it.


  • What do noun phrases consist of?

A noun phrase consists of a noun, which is the head of the phrase, and one or more dependants.

Determiners: a(n), some, the, this, your

Attributive adjectives: A beautiful, wise man; Have a nice day!

Adjective phrases and participial phrases: extremely beautiful, made of glass

Noun adjuncts: university student, my mother’s maiden name, bank account, fur coat, a four-hour flight, a few 19th-century books, post-war society

Prepositional phrases: the meeting in the dining room, a dog on the loose

Adnominal adverbs and adverbials: Can you see the girl over there in a beautiful blue dress?

Infinitive phrases: the desire to perform well

Relative clauses: the man who discovered penicillin

That clauses (functioning as complements to the noun): the fact that God exists


  • Word order in noun phrases

Building noun phrases might seem complicated at first; but, with a little practice, using them will soon come naturally to you.

  • Premodifiers consist of single adjectives, adjective phrases, single nouns and noun phrases which come before the head in a noun phrase.

Determiner + Noun: the man, a town

Quantifier + noun: Some people are capable of doing a lot of work.

Determiner + adjective + noun: my beautiful and smart children

Quantifier + determiner + noun: all these children

Quantifier + determiner + adjective + noun: all (of) my dear neighbours

  • There are, as well, words and phrases, called postmodifiers, which are used after the noun.

Adverb phrases: an inn nearby

Prepositional phrase: the girl in a beautiful blue dress, a tall man with white hair

An -ing phrase: the boy playing the piano and the girl singing with the voice of an angel

A to-infinitive: Here is something to muse on!

A relative clause: the man who discovered penicillin

A that clause: the fact that God exists


  1. Another provisional conclusion

Now that we have shed light on another topic, expanding our knowledge of English, I’d like to tell you that your proposals on what other topics to tackle and new shores to reach, in our educational journey, are more than welcome.

So, I look forward to hearing from you!