Noun phrases

Learn about the structure of noun phrases and do the exercises to practise using them.

Level: intermediate

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

People like to have money.
I am tired.


But noun phrases can also include:

  • determiners:        Those houses are very expensive.
  • quantifiers:          I've lived in a lot of houses.
  • numbers:            My brother owns two houses.
  • adjectives:          I love old houses.      

These parts of the noun phrase are called premodifiers because they go before the noun.

We use premodifiers in this order:

determiners and quantifiers > numbers > adjectives + NOUNS

For example:

Determiners and quantifiers Numbers Adjectives NOUNS
The six   children
Our   young children
  Six young children
These six young children
Some   young children
All those six young children
Their many   young children
Premodifiers 1


Premodifiers 2


Premodifiers 3



Other parts of a noun phrase go after the noun. These are called postmodifiers.

Postmodifiers can be:

  • prepositional phrases:

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

the man standing over there
the boy talking to Angela

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

  • that clauses. These are very common after 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.

I've got no decent shoes to wear.

These are very common after indefinite pronouns and adverbs:

You should take something to read.
I need somewhere to sleep.


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



Premodifiers and postmodifiers



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Hello Mussorie,

You can read about the difference between the present simple and the present perfect on our Present simple and Present perfect pages. If you have any further questions about this, please ask us on one of those pages.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Risa warysha on Fri, 05/03/2021 - 14:47

Hello the Team, Yesterday,I read a sentence on news "...took a weeks-long voyage by passenger ship." Why does it say " a weeks-long voyage"? I am confused with the word "weeks". Shouldn't it be "week"? It has to be a singular noun, doesn't it? And if it's alright to use "weeks", then what is the difference between " a week-long voyage" and " a weeks-long voyage"? Thanks for answering my questions.

Hello Risa warysha,

The plural form is an error, as you say. The correct form would be 'a two-week long voyage'.


I don't know the source of the sentence, but it may be simply a typo, or it may be an error caused by inaccurate language.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nevı on Mon, 01/03/2021 - 14:26

Hi teachers, I want to know one more thing about adjectival prepositional phrases. Can we say "a restaurant next to the house" = 'a restaurant is next to the house' If we can, could you please explain why? Thanks a lot!

Submitted by Misbahuddinktk on Mon, 01/03/2021 - 11:49

I was reading a grammer book A sentence....He give me a glass of water. And another sentence..He brought a glass of water....the first sentence was adjective phrase while the second one was placed in noun phrase..i couldn't understand why as both sentences seems same to me...

Hello Misbahuddinktk,

I'm afraid we can't explain why grammar books say what they do, and in any case it's not clear to me what words the book identified as an adjective phrase and what words it identified as a noun phrase.

We're happy to try to help you understand the grammar here, but we need to understand what precisely the question is.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by abalHasan on Sun, 14/02/2021 - 10:50

Hello, I was asked to indicate the function of noun phrases (in inverted commas) either as subject, object, subject complement or object complement. "The high chief" was invited to the ceremony. "The clown" looks very annoying I need answers please.
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sun, 14/02/2021 - 14:12

In reply to by abalHasan


Hello abalHasan,

The first phrase is a subject of a passive verb and the second one is the subject complement of the link verb 'look'.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Yigido on Mon, 14/12/2020 - 14:30

Hi team, When I was reading English book,I saw this sentence.''Walk on the train tracks at your peril.''I was wondered and I searched.It usually uses without verb, but sometimes with a verb like ''You can use it, but it’s at your own risk.''When can we use without a verb?It is a rule?I haven't known yet.
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Mon, 14/12/2020 - 15:06

In reply to by Yigido


Hello Yigido,

I'd need to see the full context to be sure, but it sounds as if someone is saying you can do that, but it's not a good idea because it's dangerous. Here, the word 'walk' seems to be an imperative verb.

The imperative is the form used to give commands or make requests and is sometimes used on signs to warn people (as appears to be the case here).

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by knownman on Fri, 16/10/2020 - 17:10

Hi, the Team, There is the below sentence under the title Postmodifiers on this page. The sentence is 'She got the idea that people didn't like her.' In this sentence, wouldn't it be 'it' instead of 'her' Thanks for the answer. Take care.

Hello knownman,

It depends on what you mean. In this case, 'her' probably refers to the subject 'she', but it could refer to some other woman or girl. But you could use 'it' to refer to some object or behaviour, or 'them' to refer to another group of people or objects.

The postmodifier phrase beginning with 'that' doesn't have to refer back to the subject -- it can refer to anything or anyone.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team