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The Adjective Phrase Head in English Grammar

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The Adjective Phrase Head in English Grammar

Adjective phrase heads are words that function as the heads of adjective phrases. An adjective phrase consists of an adjective plus any modifiers and complements. Only one grammatical form can perform the function of adjective phrase head in the English language. The one grammatical form that can function as the adjective phrase head is:

  • Adjectives

The following section defines and exemplifies the only grammatical form that can function as the adjective phrase head in English grammar.

Adjectives as Adjective Phrase Heads

The only grammatical form that performs the grammatical function of adjective phrase head is the adjective. Traditional grammars define adjectives as words that describe or modify nouns, noun phrases, and pronouns. For example, the following italicized adjectives function as adjective phrase heads:

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  • purple
  • sour
  • very angry
  • more upset
  • fearful of spiders and sinkholes
  • obsessed with Elmo
  • overjoyed to hear the happy news
  • afraid to spread her wings
  • anxious that she might catch pneumonia
  • excited that he passed his exam with flying colors
  • terrified of Santa Clause visiting the house
  • thrilled for you to finally meet me in person

The only grammatical form that can function as the adjective phrase head in the English language is the adjective.

Summary

Adjective phrase heads are words that function as the heads of adjective phrases. An adjective phrase consists of an adjective plus any modifiers and complements.

Adjective phrase head is a grammatical function.

The grammatical form that can function as the adjective phrase head in English grammar is the adjective.

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, children, dogs, and cat. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and master's degrees in library and information science and English studies with a concentration in linguistics.

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