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The Noun Phrase Complement in English Grammar

The Noun Phrase Complement in English Grammar

Noun phrase complements are words, phrases, and clauses that complete the meaning of a noun or noun phrase. Unlike noun phrase modifiers that modify or describe a noun or noun phrase, noun phrase complements complete the meaning of a noun or noun phrase. Although five grammatical forms — noun phrases, adjective phrases, prepositional phrases, verb phrases, and adjective clauses — can perform the grammatical function of noun phrase modifier in the English language, just one grammatical form can function as the noun phrase complement. The only grammatical form that can function as a noun phrase complement is the noun clause.

Noun Clauses as Noun Phrase Complements

The second grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of noun phrase complement is the noun clause. A noun clause is defined as a dependent clause that is formed by a subordinating conjunction directly followed by a clause. The subordinating conjunctions that introduce noun clauses in English are that, Ø, if, whether, wh- words, and wh-ever words. For example, the following italicized noun clauses function as noun phrase complements:

  • The claim that the earth is flat was once accepted as true.
  • The problem is the fact that you never brush your teeth before bed.
  • The idea that a parent would hurt a child makes me ill.
  • Our hope that no child will ever go hungry is possible with your help.

The only grammatical form that can function as the noun phrase complement in the English language is the noun clause.

Summary

Noun phrase complements in English grammar are words, phrases, and clauses that complete the meaning of a noun or noun phrase.

Noun phrase complement is a grammatical function.

The grammatical form that can function as the noun phrase complement in English grammar is the noun clause.

Noun phrase complements are constituents of the noun phrase.

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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