What is Noun Phrase

What is Noun Phrase

A phrase is a group of words that do not convey a complete thought. A noun phrase is a phrase that functions as a noun. It can include a noun – person, place, thing or idea – and its modifiers. The main word in a noun phrase is always a noun or a pronoun. This is called the head. Modifiers can come before or after the head of the noun phrase. The modifiers that come before the noun are generally adjectives, articles, possessive pronouns, possessive nouns, demonstratives, and quantifiers.

Articles: a cat, the cat

Demonstrative adjectives: that cat, this cat

Possessive nouns: Aunt Muriel’s cat, the neighbor’s cat, the old lady’s cat

Possessive adjectives: Our cat, his cat, their cat. my cat

Adjectives: fat cat, the sleeping cat, black cat, blind cat

Modifiers that come after the noun include adjective clauses, prepositional phrases, participle phrases, infinitives, etc.

Prepositional phrases: cat on the sofa, cat under the table, cat on the roof

Adjective clauses: the cat that chases rats, the cat that looks cute, the cat that belongs to my neighbor

Participle phrases: the cat meowing loudly, the cat snoring gently, the cat chasing the rat

What is Noun Phrase

The cat on the sofa opened its eyes sleepily.

A noun phrase can function as the subject, object or a complement, just like any noun.

Subject: The girl with the long hair ran fast.

Object: She bought a bright red skirt.

Complement: She is the first Indian woman to receive a gold medal at Olympics.

The easiest way to identify noun phrases is to replace the phrase with pronouns. If the phrase is a noun phrase, there’ll be no change in the meaning of the sentence.

Examples of Noun Phrases

Given below are some examples of noun phrases. Observe how these noun phrases have been replaced by a pronoun.

I bought a new house.→ I bought it.

A friend of her mother lives in that house. → She/he lives in that house.

She didn’t understand what the teacher said.→ She didn’t understand it.

He hates his neighbor’s dog.→ He hates it.

The girl with the butterfly tattoo is talking to my brother.→  She is talking to my brother.

She answered all the questions.→  She answered them.

This is the dog that slept on your sofa. →  This is it.

The little girl who looks fragile won the race.→ She won the race.

Both her younger sisters are married. → They are married.

Did you know that your younger brother failed the IT exam? → Did you know that he failed the IT exam?

Noun Phrase – Summary

  • A noun phrase is a phrase that functions as a noun.
  • A noun phrase can be replaced by a pronoun.
  • A noun phrase includes a noun or a pronoun and its modifiers.
  • Modifiers can come before the noun or the head of a noun phrase.
  • A noun phrase can act as a subject, object and complement just like any other noun.

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