Learn About Noun Phrases and Get Examples

noun phrase
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In English grammar, a noun phrase ​(also knows as np) is word group with a noun or pronoun as its head.

The simplest noun phrase consists of a single noun, as in the sentence "Bells were ringing." The head of a noun phrase can be accompanied by modifiers, determiners (such as the, a, her), and/or complements, as in "The cheerful bells of the church were ringing."

A noun phrase (often abbreviated as NP) most commonly functions as a subject, object, or complement.

Examples and Observations of Noun Phrases

  • J.K. Rowling
    Panting, Harry fell forwards over the hydrangea bush, straightened up and stared around.
  • E.B. White
    The home of the Little family was a pleasant place near a park in New York City.
  • Helen Keller
    When the story was finished, I read it to my teacher, and I recall now vividly the pleasure I felt in the more beautiful passages
  • Maya Angelou
    I would hold my laugh, bite my tongue, grit my teeth, and very seriously erase even the touch of a smile from my face.
  • Joseph Mitchell
    McSorley's bar is short, accommodating approximately ten elbows, and is shored up with iron pipes.
  • Peter Matthiessen
    The wells and water table had been polluted by chemical pesticides and fertilizers that leached into the earth and were washed by rain into the creeks, where the stunned fish were scavenged by the ospreys.
  • Bernard Malamud
    The men in the class--there were a few older students, veterans--listened with good-natured interest, and the girls gazed at the instructor with rosy-faced, shy affection.

Identifying Noun Phrases

  • Thomas P. Klammer
    The principle of substitution is essential in grammatical analysis. We cannot possibly hope to characterize all of the possible noun phrases of English on the basis of form. Just thinking about the possible structures that can serve as subjects of sentences should convince you that an exhaustive catalog of noun phrases would be, if at all possible, incredibly long and complex. Consider, as a single example, the subject of the preceding sentence: Just thinking about the possible structures that can serve as subjects of sentences. In form, this string of words is nothing like the prototypical noun phrases described above, yet a pronoun can substitute for it (It should convince you), and it functions quite naturally in a noun phrase slot.

Noun-Noun Phrases

  • Margaret Cargill and Patrick O'Connor
    This kind of noun phrase can cause problems for EAL [English as an additional language] writers, in our experience. An example of a noun-noun phrase is 'resource availability.' This phrase means 'availability of resources.' To shorten phrases like this, it is very common in scientific English for the second part (of resources) to be moved in front of the headword (availability). When this happens, the part that moves is always written in its singular form (resource) and the preposition is omitted. (It is rare to find a possessive form with an apostrophe in such cases in science writing.)