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    The Noun Phrase Modifier in English Grammar

    The Noun Phrase Modifier in English Grammar

    Noun phrase modifiers are defined as words, phrases, and clauses that describe a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase. Although adjectives and adjective phrases most frequently function to describe nouns, five grammatical forms can perform the grammatical function of noun phrase modifier in the English language. The five grammatical forms that can function as noun phrase modifiers are:

    • Noun phrases
    • Adjective phrases
    • Prepositional phrases
    • Verb phrases
    • Adjective clauses

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

    Noun Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers

    The first grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of noun phrase modifier is the noun phrase. Noun phrases are defined as phrases that consist of a noun including pronouns and any determinatives, modifiers, and complements such as adjectives, determiners, verbs, prepositions, and clauses. For example, the following the following italicized noun phrases function as noun phrase modifiers:

    • Please keep the bathroom door shut.
    • Which hotel room are you staying in?
    • The new table legs are made out of oak.
    • We just bought a new dining room table.

    Adjective Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers

    The second grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of noun phrase modifier is the adjective phrase. Adjective phrases are defined as phrases that consist of an adjective and any modifiers such as adverbs and prepositions. For example, the following italicized adjective phrases function as noun phrase modifiers:

    • That little girl prefers the purple blanket.
    • Your mom makes the most mild, tasteless chili.
    • My favorite fall treat is a big cup of hot apple cider.
    • The very scary dog barked at somebody special.

    Adjective phrases are the most frequent and considered the most prototypical grammatical form that function as noun phrase modifiers.

    Prepositional Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers

    The third grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of noun phrase modifier is the prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases are defined as phrases formed by a preposition followed by a prepositional complement. For example, the following italicized prepositional phrases function as noun phrase modifiers:

    • The man in the yellow hat owns a pet monkey.
    • That woman with the glasses is my mother.
    • My dog is the puppy behind the fence.
    • I enjoy writing articles about English grammar.

    Verb Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers

    The fourth grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of noun phrase modifier 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 modifiers:

    • The girl handing students the syllabus is the graduate teaching assistant.
    • The woman now singing loudly had served me my coffee.
    • The cake eaten by the dog was for my grandfather.
    • He stores the paintings to display in the front closet.

    Adjective Clauses as Noun Phrase Modifiers

    The fifth grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of noun phrase modifier is the adjective clause. Adjectives clauses are defined as subordinate clauses that consist of a clause usually beginning with a relative pronoun. The relative pronouns in English are that, who, whom, whose, which, where, when, and why. For example, the following italicized adjective clauses function as noun phrase modifiers:

    • The book that I found in the stacks had been marked as missing.
    • Do you know the little boy who left his coat in the park?
    • My grandfather is the man to whom my grandmother pledged her love.
    • The reason why he forgot his pants is rather amusing.
    • Adjective clauses are also referred to as relative clauses.

    The five grammatical forms that can function as noun phrase modifiers in the English language are noun phrases, adjective phrases, prepositional phrases, verb phrases, and adjective clauses.

    Summary

    Noun phrase modifiers in English grammar are words, phrases, and clauses that modify or describe a noun including a pronoun or a noun phrase.

    Noun phrase modifier is a grammatical function.

    The grammatical forms that can function as the noun phrase modifier in English grammar are noun phrase, adjective phrase, prepositional phrase, verb phrase, and adjective clause.

    Noun phrase modifiers 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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