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.



Hello British Council,
Very good job. The site is amazing!
Thank you,
Greetings of peace

thanks!  good information but i have  question: a noun  phrase could be just one word??
as is the first example: people like to have money. people is a noun phrase? 

 One question:
• 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.
In sentence: I need somewhere to sleep. The ‘somewhere’ is an adverb, and ‘need’ is a transitive, this means that the structure is N+V+Adv+to-infinitive, the adverb as the object of the sentence. That’s impossible! Adverbs can be used as objects! How can you explain that? 

Hi Zhao Wei,
The object of 'take' in this sentence is the noun phrase 'something to wear''. It's true that we usually class 'somewhere' as an adverb or adverbial, but it can act more like a noun, as can 'something' and 'someone'. For example, 'She met someone' or 'He bought something'.
Does that help? Thanks for your interesting question!
The LearnEnglish Team

 please hellp me.I searched websites for learning English lenguage and I found this.I dont know english so good and I dont know how to use this website.Where I can correspond with other people and practice my English.I hoppe that you understend me!Thank for helpping me!By By!!!

Hi Joksi,
You asked the same question on the Beating Stress page and I answered it there.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

really i can't understand the topic, noun phrases an relative phrases, could you help me?, may be you can help me whit other article o give a link in internet.
thanks a lot arturo  

in the sentence ... the bank gave her loan..  
noun phrase is ... the bank? is it right?

Yes you are right, rest is a verb phrase "gave (verb) her loan

Hello afaf.afi!
Yes, that's right. One of the noun phrases is the bank. But there are actually 3 noun phrases in your sentence! The bank gave her a loan. Noun phrases are very common!
Best wishes,
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team