The Structure of Noun Phrases

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  • Topic: Pronoun, Noun phrase, Grammar
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Univerzitet Novi Pazar
Odeljenje: Beograd
Fakultet humanističkih nauka
Odsek: filološki
Smer: Engleski jezik i književnost

Predmet: Sintaksa Engleskog jezika

Student: Nikola Vukasović

Beograd, 01.06.2011

1. Introduction

Among the five different types of phrases in English namely noun phrases, verb phrases, adjective phrases, adverb phrases and prepositional phrases, noun phrases are the most common playing various syntactic functions in the sentence and clause structure: subject, object and complement (of various kinds), apposition and attribute. They are used to refer to things that people want to talk about: people, objects, concepts, processes and all kind of entities.

2. Basic Noun Phrases
Structurally speaking, in the first place, basic noun phrases consist of pronouns, numerals or nouns with articles (indefinite, definite or zero) or nouns with other closed-system items that occur before the noun head including pre-determiners (pre-det), determiners (det.) and post-determiners (post-det.). The underlined parts of the following sentences are good examples of basic noun phrases: |  |I |stayed at |home |during |all |the |last few |days |  | |  |pronoun |  |zero article + noun|  |pre-de |+ det |+ post-det |+ noun |  |

|  |Some people |dislike |‘13’ |  |  |  |  |  |  | |  |det. + noun |  |numeral | | | | | | |

2.1 Pronouns and Numerals

Actually, pronouns are a special class of noun. As their names imply, they ‘replace’ nouns or rather whole noun phrases, since they cannot generally occur with determiners. For example, personal pronouns have two sets of case forms: subjective and objective: ‘I’/ ‘me’, ‘we’/ ‘us’, ‘he’/ ‘him’, ‘she’/ ‘her’, ‘they’/ ‘them’; ‘you’ and ‘it’ are exceptional in showing no distinction. Subjective personal pronouns function as subject and sometimes as subject complement while objective personal pronouns as object, prepositional complement and sometimes as subject complement. These can be illustrated by: He is happy.

I  saw him at the station.
Like personal pronouns, other types of pronouns including reflexive, possessive, relative, demonstrative, interrogative, universal, assertive, non-assertive and negative pronouns are all basic noun phrases. Reflexive pronouns include ‘myself’, ‘yourself’, ‘himself’, ‘herself’, ‘itself’, ‘ourselves’, ‘yourselves’ and ‘themselves’. He hurt himself yesterday.

Possessive pronouns are ‘mine’, ‘ours’, ‘yours’, etc. This book is mine
Relative pronouns: ‘who’, ‘whom’, ‘that’, ‘which’, etc. The book, which is on the table, is mine.
Demonstrative pronouns fall in two groups. One is “near” reference with ‘this’ and ‘these’; and the other “distant” reference with ‘that’ and ‘those’. This is my friend.
Interrogative pronouns: ‘who’, ‘whom’, ‘what’, etc. Who did you go with?
Universal pronouns: ‘each’, ‘all’, and ‘every’ series: ‘everyone’, ‘everything’, etc. Everyone has his own ambitions.
Partitive pronouns, parallel to the universal ones, consist of assertive pronouns including the ‘some’ group (‘some’, ‘someone’, ‘something’, etc.); non-assertive with the ‘any’ series (‘any’, ‘anyone’, ‘anything’, etc.); and negative with the ‘no’ series (‘none’, ‘no-one’, ‘nothing’, etc.) Nobody has come yet.

Apart from pronouns, numerals including cardinal numbers (‘one’, ‘two’, etc.) and ordinal numbers (‘first’, ‘second’, etc.) can form basic noun phrases, as in: Two is better than one.

2.2 Basic Noun Phrases with Determiners

Not only can basic noun phrases consist of pronouns or numerals, but they can also comprise a head noun with determiners or determiners modified by pre-determiners and/or post-determiners. The head noun...
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