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The Noun Phrase Complement in English Grammar

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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, only two grammatical forms can function as the noun phrase complement. The two grammatical forms that can function as noun phrase complements are:

  • Noun clause
  • Verb phrase

The following sections define and exemplify the two grammatical forms that can function as the noun phrase modifier in English grammar.

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:

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  • 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.

Verb Phrases as Noun Phrase Complements

The second grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of noun phrase complement is the verb phrase. Verb phrases are defined as phrases formed by one or more verbs plus any objects, modifiers, complements, particles, and infinitive markers such as nouns, verbs, adverbs, p-words, and prepositions. For example, the following italicized verb phrases function as noun phrase complement:

  • She has problems finding her shoes.
  • His trouble finishing his degree began years ago.
  • I get anxiety meeting new people.
  • We had troubles buying fresh chives.

The two grammatical forms that can function as the noun phrase complement in the English language are noun clauses and verb phrases.

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 forms that can function as the noun phrase complement in English grammar are noun clause and verb phrase.

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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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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