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Noun phrases 


The Noun Phrase (or noun group) in English


Related pages: NounsArticles , Some or any, other Quantifiers, Possessives: using "of" or "'s", Count & non-count nouns, pronouns


Two simple "rules" govern the use of the noun group in English.

1)  Most noun phrases consist of at least two elements

Unless a noun is used in a generalising sense (see articles), a noun group consists or at least the following elements: a determiner and a noun.
    A determiner is one of the following:

     Except in some very rare cases, a noun can only be preceded by ONE determiner:

   Examples: the man, some women, a few dogs, your horse, the man's horse* , that car, whose money,  how many bottles?
     (In this example, the man's horse* there appear to be two determiners before horse, but in fact there is only one: the determiner before horse is the man, and the article the is the determiner of the word  man.)


2. Many noun phrases also include "modifiers" 

A noun group can also contain one or more modifiers; a modifier is an adjective, an adjectival phrase, a secondary noun, a prepositional phrase or a relative clause.
The principal noun in a noun group is called the head noun.
Put all this together, and we get a complex noun group, such as:

The nice old-fashioned police inspector with white hair, who was drinking his beerwas Mr. Morse.

3 Some common exceptions
Sometimes an adjective or an adjectival phrase will follow the noun, or appear to do so. There are three cases that need to be noted:
Examples.
     There's been an outbreak of flu, but there are only fifteen people concerned
     After the fight, the police arrested the men involved.
      Oh look ! there is only one chocolate left !!
      We can't go yet !! There are still three people missing
      There was a crowd bigger than last year.

To place noun groups correctly in a sentence, see Word order in English .
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