Grammar What Is a Noun Phrase? |
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What Is a Noun Phrase?

A noun phrase is group of two or more words that function as a subject, an object, or a prepositional object in a sentence. The phrase is led by a noun and joined by one or more modifiers that can come before the noun or after it.

For example, if you write the man with all the belt buckles, the entire string is a noun phrase. Man is the primary noun and with all the belt buckles is a modifier. Together, the words describe one man. Because the entire construction identifies a particular individual, the full unit serves as a single noun.

Noun Phrases in Action

You’ll often hear noun phrases used as nouns in everyday grammar. That’s because many of us tend to think and speak descriptively. Which sentence could you see yourself using to identify someone while talking with another person in a store?

The man is paying in hundred-dollar bills.

The man with all the belt buckles is paying in hundred-dollar bills.

We might see and hear noun phrases just as often as we do simple nouns standing alone. More examples might be:

The cat on top of the counter is getting ready to jump.

The restaurant on the corner of the street serves great pancakes.

It felt good to find the owner of the missing dog.

Once you understand what noun phrases are and how they’re constructed, you can spot them with ease. Using them correctly in your writing and speech can become effortless too.

More Noun Phrase Details

As we mentioned, any words in a sentence that modify the noun can be part of the noun phrase. These words might also include articles (a, and, the), determiners (four, few), adjectives, participles, and pronouns.

Four girls have requested those roller skates.

His blue shirt is hanging on the towel bar. (Here, towel bar is not a noun phrase, but a compound noun.)

A book unwritten is a book unread by someone who might learn from it.

As you can see, a noun phrase can be formed by any number or combination of words. These examples further show a noun phrase being used as a subject, a direct object, and a predicate nominative.

Pop Quiz

Identify the noun phrase in each sentence below.

1. A pouring rain fell through the afternoon.

2. Should we test-drive the blue truck?

3. I’m in the mood for a steaming-hot cup of tea.

4. A towering mountain was looming in the distance.

5. A striking woman with jet-black hair sat next to me.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. A pouring rain fell through the afternoon.

2. Should we test-drive the blue truck?

3. I’m in the mood for a steaming-hot cup of tea.

4. A towering mountain was looming in the distance.

5. A striking woman with jet-black hair sat next to me.

 

Are You Looking for More Great Grammar Tips?

The more you learn about grammar, the easier it is to keep adding to your knowledge and skills. That’s because each new idea or definition you pick up helps to shed some light on others. Then, you’ll understand concepts like noun phrases, dangling modifiers, passive voice, and adverbial phrases as well as any editor.

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