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Using Adjectives and Adjective Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers

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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

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Adjective Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers Grammar Tree 1

Adjective Phrases as Noun Phrase Modifiers Grammar Tree 2

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.

Grammatical Forms of English Adjective Phrases

Grammatical Forms of English Adjective Phrases

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