Noun Phrases

Often a noun phrase is just a noun or a pronoun:

People like to have money.
I am tired.
It is getting late.

or a determiner and a noun …:

Our friends have bought a house in the village.
Those houses are very expensive.

… perhaps with an adjective:

Our closest friends have just bought a new house in the village.

Sometimes the noun phrase begins with a quantifier:

All those children go to school here.
Both of my younger brothers are married
Some people spend a lot of money.


Quantifiers come before determiners, but numbers come after determiners:

My four children go to school here. (All my children go to school here.)
Those two suitcases are mine. (Both those suitcases are mine)

So the noun phrase is built up in this way:

Noun: people; money
Determiner + noun: the village, a house, our friends; those houses
Quantifier + noun: some people; a lot of money
Determiner + adjective + noun: our closest friends; a new house.
Quantifier + determiner + noun: all those children;
Quantifier + determiner + adjective + noun: both of my younger brothers

The noun phrase can be quite complicated:

a loaf of nice fresh brown bread
the eight-year-old boy who attempted to rob a sweet shop with a pistol
that attractive young woman in the blue dress sitting over there in the corner

Match noun phrases to patterns

Some words and phrases come after the noun. These are called postmodifiers. A noun phrase can be postmodified in several ways. Here are some examples:

• with a prepositional phrase:

a man with a gun
the boy in the blue shirt
the house on the corner

• with an –ing phrase:

the man standing over there
the boy talking to Angela

• with a relative clause:

the man we met yesterday
the house that Jack built
the woman who discovered radium
an eight-year-old boy who attempted to rob a sweet shop

• with a that clause.
This is very common with reporting or summarising nouns like idea, fact, belief, suggestion:

He’s still very fit, in spite of the fact that he’s over eighty.
She got the idea that people didn’t like her.
There was a suggestion that the children should be sent home.

• with a to-infinitive.
This is very common after indefinite pronouns and adverbs:

You should take something to read.
I need somewhere to sleep.
I’ve got no decent shoes to wear.

There may be more than one postmodifier:

an eight-year old boy with a gun who tried to rob a sweet shop
that girl over there in a green dress drinking a coke


Match types of postmodifiers to phrases


There are four complex noun phrases in this section:

The accident happened at around 3pm on Wednesday. A man climbing nearby who saw the accident said “It was the most amazing rescue I have ever seen.” 42-year-old Joe Candler saw Miss Johnson’s fall along with his partner Fay Hamilton.

The rescue is the latest in a series of incidents on High Peak. In January last year two men walking on the peak were killed in a fall when high winds blew them off the mountain.





Could I please have some advice with this sentence?

The old bus near the church had broken down.

Is the noun phrase here 'the old bus' or is it 'the old bus near the church'? Or is this not a noun phrase but a prepositonal phrase instead?

Thank you for your assistance.

Hello lisa,

Noun phrases can be simple, e.g. 'the old bus' (determiner + adjective + noun) and can also include more elements such as prepositional phrases, e.g. 'the old bus near the church'; prepositional phrases also usually include a noun phrase (e.g. in this case, 'the church'). You might find a sentence parser useful – just pop in the sentence and look at the Constituent Tree near the bottom of the page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I want to ask
How important is this material to English practice?
Because I choose this to be my project for organizing some materials and questioning the readers in our college. I mean for English Second Language Learner like me who has beenbeen in college, ain't that too easy?

Hello Aprillia,

Some people find it useful to study grammar in the way it's explained on these pages, whereas others don't find it so useful. In any case, learning in different, complementary ways is a good idea for everyone. I'm afraid I don't understand your project well enough to really tell you much else. If you have any other specific questions, please feel free to ask them.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team 

I am confused this sentence "Amazon filed a long note to its investors this afternoon reviewing the state of its current businesses.". Can I view "a long note to its investors this afternoon reviewing the state of its current business" as one Noun phrase? If yes, I don't know why it use "reviewing" instead of "to review", because I think it should be infinitive to give a purpose of "a long note".

Hi davidxie,

You are correct that the whole phrase is a noun phrase acting as the object of 'filed'.

The participle 'reviewing' here tells us the function of the note - what the note was 'doing' or, in other words, what it was for. If we use an infinitive then it tells us something different. It would then tell us why the note was filed. Compare these examples:

I sent a letter describing the problem. [the letter contains a description]

I sent a letter to describe the problem. [the reason I sent the letter was to describe the problem]

It is a subtle distinction, but it can be important - as in your example.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

hello sir
it was interesting to know that using ing from or to-infi can bring such a deference in a sentence. but I didn't noticed anything like that under section verb-ing or verb-to infi in your website. or maybe I just missed them. would you kindly explain more or give me some references pleas.
thank you.

Hello Ambitious learner,

Our to + infinitive page (at the top) mentions that to + infinitives can be used to express purpose and our -ing forms page (near the bottom) also mentions that the -ing form can come after a noun. Note that in your example and the examples on the -ing form page, the -ing form could also be replaced by a relative clause (e.g. '... that reviews the state of ...' This is called a reduced relative clause and you can find more about these on this archived BBC page and also this newer one.

We also have a page on Participle clauses that covers a different use of the -ing form, but which I bet you'll find useful.

That's quite a lot of new information – I hope you enjoy it!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter, your answer is very helpful.

I am confused with to-infinitive grammar. For example, I should take something to read. In this sentence there is the active form of verb following the word to. But in the sentence " what are some considerations to be addressed when teaching children...", following the word to is a passive form of verb. It seems like something only could be read, why can't I say "I should take something to be read"? Looking forward to your reply, thanks.