In traditional treatments of grammar, nouns are defined as words that denote a person, place, thing, or idea. A noun phrase is a phrase that consists of a noun functioning as the head of the phrase plus any modifiers, complements, or determiners. A pronoun is a word that stands in for a noun or noun phrase. pronouns are a subcategory of nouns.
In grammar, determiners are words or phrases that provide information such as familiarity, location, quantity, and number. The six main types of determiners in English are articles, demonstrative determiners, interrogative determiners, possessive determiners, quantifiers, and numerals. Determiners perform the grammatical function of determinative.
In English, however, nouns and noun phrases can also function as determinatives. A nominal determinative, or possessive noun, is a noun or noun phrase plus the possessive clitic (apostrophe s or s apostrophe) that indicates possession of or some other relationship to another noun or noun phrase. Nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases frequently function as determinatives in the English language. Proper nouns especially perform the grammatical function of determinatives. Examples of nouns and noun phrases as determinatives include the following:
- I love reading children’s literature. (noun)
- Herman’s daughter is very delightful to talk to. (noun)
- Robbers broke into someone’s car last night. (pronoun)
- Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar is anybody’s guess. (pronoun)
- The museum put the Queen of England’s crown on display. (noun phrase)
- The man who lives next door’s dog is always bothering my cat. (noun phrase)
Noun Phrases as Determinatives
Pronoun as Determinative
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.