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Noun phrases in English 

What is a noun phrase or noun group in English ?


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

The six most common models for noun phrases
1. Pronoun
2. Noun alone
3. Determiner + noun
4. Determiner + modifier + noun
5. Determiner + noun + extension.
6. Determiner + modifier + noun + extension
Examples
1. They
2. Apples
3. The apples
4. The biggest apples
5. The apples in this box
6. The biggest apples in this box
Other models are possible too.

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 of 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 beer, was 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.

See also....
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