According to traditional grammars, nouns are words that refer to a person, place, thing, or idea. A noun phrase is a phrase that consists of a noun plus any modifiers, complements, or determiners. Pronouns are a subcategory of nouns that take the place of nouns and noun phrases.
In grammar, a prepositional complement is a word, phrase, or clause that directly follow a preposition and completes the meaning of the prepositional phrase. Nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases most frequently function as prepositional complements in English. Examples of nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases as prepositional complements include the following:
- That letter is from Betty. (noun)
- Give the free samples to men. (noun)
- The mailman left a package for me. (pronoun)
- That child is no child of mine. (pronoun)
- In my opinion, grammar is fun to study. (noun phrase)
- The woman with the green polka dot hat stole an umbrella from the grocery store. (noun phrase)
Nouns and noun phrases also function as postpositional complements in English. A postpositional phrase consists of a postposition plus another word, phrase, or clause functioning as a postpositional complement. Many grammars identify phrases that contain a postposition as the head erroneously as a prepositional phrase. However, both prepositions and postpositions are subcategories of adpositions. Prepositional complements follow the preposition. Postpositional complements precede the postposition. Examples of nouns and noun phrases as postpositional complements include the following:
- The storm happened days ago. (noun)
- Twenty years ago my parents vacationed in Venice. (noun phrase)
- He and his best friend live only two blocks apart. (noun phrase)
- My aunt and her mother live seven wild miles apart. (noun phrase)
- The baby cried the whole night through. (noun phrase)
- He will invest in the company, financial limitations notwithstanding. (noun phrase)
Noun Phrase as Prepositional Complement
Noun Phrase as Postpositional Complement
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.