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.

Numbers:

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.

 

Comments

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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter, your answer is very helpful.

Hi,
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.

Hi Giselle Pang,

Grammatically speaking, you can say '...something to be read', but it suggests that the reading will be done by someone else rather than by you. In your first example this is the intended meaning: 'to be addressed' is used because the speaker wishes to avoid explicitly saying who will address it. Compare the same sentence with an active infinitive form:

There are some considerations to address when teaching children.  -  This tells us that the people who are teaching will be addressing the considerations.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,
Thank you for your reply. I am glad to receive the reply. It did help me to understand the difference between two sentences. I want to make a clarify. Does that mean if the reader know the exact person who will do the action, it can be in an active form? But even in active form it still has passive meaning, isn't it?
Regards,

Hi Giselle Pang,

I'm not sure what you mean by 'passive meaning' here. The meanings are as follows:

There are some considerations to address when teaching children

=  There are some considerations which we need to address when teaching children

There are some considerations to be addressed when teaching children.

=  There are some considerations which somebody needs to address when teaching children

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello.would you explain me how we can negate a noun phrase.I am confused whether we should use NO or Not.please note these example:
no commercial company
not all rock flour
I have another question. In the above you say that (all) is a quantifier.how can I recognize a quantifier?by meaning or grammatical points.
with best regard.

Hello rastak keen,

Quantifiers are words which come before nouns and tell us how much or how many.

'No' and 'not all' have different meanings:

no commercial company = zero commercial companies

not all commercial companies = some commercial companies but not every single one

In other words, both 'no' and 'not all' can be used, but with different meanings.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your note. but I want to know that we can say:no all rock flour.In other word how we can negate noun phrase .we can use no and not both of them according to meaning?
with sincere thanks.

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