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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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