The complexity of the noun phraseNoun phrases can be indefinitely complex, because sentences themselves can be reshaped so as to come within noun-phrase structure.For example, the following simple and complex sentences (1a) – (1e) can be re-expressed as one simple sentence (2) with a very complex noun phrase as subject.
The complexity of the noun phrase(1) (a) That girl is Angela Hunt.(b) That girl is tall.(c) That girl was standing in the corner.(d) You waved to that girl when you entered.(e) That girl became angry because you waved to her.(2) That tall girl standing in the corner who became angry because you waved to her when you entered is Angela Hunt.
The complexity of the noun phraseThe sentence (2) has introduced many changes:the suppression all or part of the verbs in (1b) and (1c) (different in tense and aspect);the complement tall in (1b) is put before the noun girl;the replacement of that girl in (1e) by who.
The structure of the noun phrase(3) Gustav Husak stepped down as party chief.(4) The old man stepped down as party chief.(5) He stepped down as party chief.(6) Gustav Husak, 74, who restored Czechoslovakia to Communist orthodoxy after the brief enlightenment of the 1968 Prague Spring, stepped down as party chief.Noun phrases – can be realized as names, nouns or pronouns.
The structure of the noun phraseIn describing noun phrases, we distinguish 4 components:(I) The head – around which the other components cluster and which dictates concord (i.e. subject-verb agreement) and other kinds of congruence with the rest of the sentence outside the noun phrase:(7) That tall girl standing in the corner… is …(8) Those tall girls standing in the corner… are …(9) He addressed that tall girl standing in the corner.
The structure of the noun phrase(II) The determiner – its role is to determine the kind of reference of the noun phrase. We distinguish 3 classes of determiners, set up on the basis of their position in the noun phrase in relation to each other:Central determiners: the, a, zero; demonstratives (this, that, these, those); possessives (my, our, your, his, her, its, their); wh-determiners which, whose, whichever, whatever, whosever, whether as relatives, indefinite relatives or interrogatives; the negative determiner no; universal determiners every, each; the nonassertive dual determiner either; the negative dual determiner neither; determiners that cooccur only with uncountable nouns and plural countable nouns (some, any, enough).
The structure of the noun phrasePredeterminers – form a class in generally being mutually exclusive, preceding the central determiners with which they can cooccur, and in having to do with quantification. There are two subsets: (a) all, both, half; (b) the multipliers (twice, double, three times, once, etc.)
The structure of the noun phrasePostdeterminers – take their place immediately after determiners . They fall into two classes: (a) ordinals (first, fourth, last, other, etc.); (b) quantifiers (seven, ninety, many, few, plenty of, a lot of, little, etc.)
The structure of the noun phrase(III) The premodification – comprises all the items placed before the head and after the determiner. Most common premodifiers are adjectives, participles and nouns.
The structure of the noun phrase There are four premodifier slots:1. Central position – central adjectives. They can occur both predicatively and attributively, they can be intensified by very, and they are gradable.2. Precentral position – peripheral, nongradable adjectives that are most typically intensifiers such as entire, certain, complete.3. Postcentral position – participles and colour adjectives, retired, sleeping, red, pink.4. Prehead position – the position nearest to the head, contains the least adjectival and the most nominal items (denominal adjectives Scottish, statistical, political).Example:(10) certain rich American producers
The structure of the noun phrase(IV) The postmodification – comprises all the items placed after the head: prepositional phrases, nonfinite clauses, relative clauses, postposed adjectives, adverb phrases, apposition.
Premodification(a) ADJECTIVE:(11) I visited his delightful cottage.(b) PARTICIPLE:(12) I visited his crumbling cottage. (-ing participle)(13) I visited his completed cottage. (-ed participle)(c) NOUN:(14) I visited his country cottage.(d) ADVERB:(15) I visited his far-away cottage.(e) CLAUSE:(16) Sotheby’s is selling off Elton’s effects in a four-day, 2000-lot, you’ve-seen-the-catalogue, now-wear-the-T- shirt sale that kicks off the autumn saleroom season.
The grammatical status of thegenitiveAs determiner – for the most part, genitives function exactly like central definite determiners and thus preclude the co-occurrence of other determiners:(17) (a) a new briefcase(b) the new briefcase (*a the new briefcase)(c) this new briefcase (*the this new briefcase)(d) Joan’s new briefcase(*the Joan’s new briefcase)This equally applies when the genitive is a phrase incorporating its own determiner:(18) my cousin’s new briefcase ≠ my new briefcase(19) my handsome cousin’s new briefcase
The grammatical status of thegenitiveThe items preceding the genitive relate to that genitive:(20) that old gentleman’s son = ‘the son of that old gentleman’; ≠ ‘that son of the old gentleman’Exception – in cases where the preceding item is predeterminer, since the predeterminer may relate either to the genitive noun or to the noun that follows it:(21) We attributed both the girls’ success to their hard work. (‘the success of both the girls’)(22) Both the girl’s parents were present. (‘both the parents of the girl’)
The grammatical status of thegenitiveAs modifier – when the genitive is used descriptively, it functions as a premodifier. Determiners in such noun phrases usually relate not to the genitive but to the noun following it:(23) They attend a women’s university in Kyoto. (‘*a women’)So also, other modifying items in the noun phrase relate to the noun following the genitive:(24) She lives in a quaint old shepherds cottage. (it is probably the cottage that is quaint and old, not the shepherd)
Postmodification(a) RELATIVE CLAUSE:(25) Teachers who go on strike will pay dearly for deserting their classrooms. (RESTRICTIVE RELATIVE CLAUSE)(26) The editor of the Hindu, Mr N. Ram, who had flown specially from Madras, urged the president to set Mr Jeyaraj free. (NONRESTRICTIVE RELATIVE CLAUSE)(b) NONFINITE CLAUSES:-ing PARTICIPLE CLAUSES:(27) Doctors switched off the machine keeping baby Alexander Davies alive. (-ing PARTICIPLE CLAUSE)
Postmodification-ed PARTICIPLE CLAUSES:(28) Police were led to the spot by a man already charged with abducting and threatening to kill an 18-year-old slaughterhouse worker. (-ed PARTICIPLE CLAUSE)INFINITIVE CLAUSES:(29) which will be removed as part of new arms deal to be signed in Washington
Postmodification(c) PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES:(30) Since his arrival at Anfield from Watford for a fee of £ 900, 000, John Barnes has captured the imagination of supporters...(d) POSTPOSED ADJECTIVE PHRASES:(31) the city would surely have been packed with volunteers, art historians and fund raisers anxious to save a cultural heritage they felt they shared
Postmodification(e) ADVERB PHRASES:(32) The road back was dense with traffic.(f) APPOSITION:Two or more structures are in apposition when they have identity of reference. Apposition can be expressed by:Noun phrases:(33) Mr Simpson, the vicar of Barmston, said last night:...
PostmodificationNominal that-clauses:(34) Mikhail Gorbachev’s new wave rolled on yesterday with the promise that Russia would stop pushing around her Iron Curtain neighbours.Nonfinite clauses:(35) His only interest in life, playing football, has brought him many friends.(36) Mr Gorbachev’s decision to call on the Prime Minister on the eve of the historic Washington summit is seen in Whitehall as...
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