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    Using Adjectives and Adjective Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers

    Using Adjectives and Adjective Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers

    Traditional grammars define adjectives as words that modify or describe nouns. An adjective phrase is a phrase that consists of an adjective that functions as the head of the phrase plus any modifiers or complements.

    In grammar, a noun phrase modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that modifies or describes a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase. Adjectives and adjective phrases often function as noun phrase modifiers to describe nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases in English. Examples of adjectives and adjective phrases as noun phrase modifiers include the following:

    • My wonderful husband bought me pink tulips and red roses.
    • Order me some hot coffee.
    • I prefer dark beers and strong vodkas over girly wine.
    • My daughter is craving something sweet.
    • Somebody incredibly annoying keeps calling today.
    • The very spicy dish is on the left.
    • Do you know that rather loud child?
    • The cafeteria always serves sickeningly sweet desserts.

    Adjectives and adjective phrases performing the function of noun phrase modifier can also follow the noun, pronoun, or noun phrase. For example:

    • The fire, warm and inviting, beckons me.
    • That new light bulb, bright and yellow, really warms the room.
    • I will buy you a new car, perfect and shiny.
    • The man, uneducated but smart, taught himself to read.
    • The woman, afraid of snakes, refused to visit the reptile room at the zoo.
    • My daughter likes the boy, fond of movies, who brought her a cookie.
    • The single girl, happy for the new couple, cried anyway.
    • My teacher, passionate about learning, reads a new book every day.

    Adjective Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers

    Adjective Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers Grammar Tree 1

    Adjective Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers Grammar Tree 2


    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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