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    The Noun Phrase Head in English Grammar

    The Noun Phrase Head in English Grammar

    Noun phrase heads are words that function as the heads of noun phrases. A noun phrase consists of a noun or pronoun plus any determiners, modifiers, and complements. Only two grammatical forms can perform the function of noun phrase head in the English language. The two grammatical forms that can function as the noun phrase head are:

    • Nouns
    • Pronouns

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

    Nouns as Noun Phrase Heads

    The first grammatical form that performs the grammatical function of noun phrase head is the noun. Traditional grammars define nouns as words that name people, places, things, and ideas. For example, the following italicized nouns function as noun phrase heads:

    • toddler
    • the girl
    • the man who knew too much
    • a fine woman to love
    • the cop running the race
    • twelve of the many books that you ordered

    Pronouns as Noun Phrase Heads

    The second grammatical form that performs the grammatical function of noun phrase head is the pronoun. Traditional grammars define pronouns as words that take the place of nouns. Pronouns are a subcategory of nouns. For example, the following italicized pronouns function as noun phrase heads:

    • me
    • somebody
    • this
    • nobody special
    • anybody to love
    • the blue ones

    The two grammatical forms that can function as the noun phrase head in the English language are nouns and pronouns.

    Summary

    Noun phrase heads are words that function as the heads of noun phrases. A noun phrase consists of a noun or pronoun plus any determiners, modifiers, and complements.

    Noun phrase head is a grammatical function.

    The grammatical forms that can function as the noun phrase head in English grammar are nouns and pronouns.

    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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