The Noun Phrase

The noun phrase is a group of words that ends with a noun. it can contain determiners (the, a, this, etc.), adjectives, adverbs, and nouns. it CANNOT begin with a preposition. remember that both subjects and complements are generally noun phrases.

In English grammar, a noun phrase has three components:

1. The head

is the hub, the center of attraction (as it were) of the noun phrase; it is the noun or pronoun around which the other parts gather together. The head determines concord with the portion of the sentence outside the noun phrase. Thus:

  1. The change in the Asian economies is unprecedented.
  2. The changes in Japan’s economy are most unexpected.

2. Premodification

consists of all the words place before the head. These words are usually determiners, adjectives and nouns. Thus:

  1. That sophisticated city woman (“That” (determiner), “sophisticated” (adjective), “city” (noun); woman (head))
  2. Many honest down and out small-town businessmen (“Many” (determiner), “honest” (adjective), “down and out” (adjective phrase), “small-town” (noun); businessmen (head))

3. Postmodification

comprises words in the noun phrase that follow the head. These words usually consist of prepositional phrases, nonfinite clauses, and relative clauses.Thus:

  1. The talkative man in the center of the room … (prepositional phrase)
  2. All the women walking on the bike path … (non-finite clause)
  3. The house that I purchased for my third husband … (restrictive relative clause)
  4. The house, which my partner and I bought a month after we met, … (non-restrictive relative clause)

There can also be adjectival post-modification:

  1. Corruption aplenty (“aplenty” (adjective); corruption (head)). Thus: Corruption aplenty, in every unsurprising form, graced the occasion.

4. Apposition

A related concept is apposition, a construction usually involving two noun phrases that refer to the same entity (noun or pronoun). Examples:

  1. That president, Abraham Lincoln, lives in the hearts …
  2. Her dog, sixteen years old and nearly blind with cataract, greeted …
  3. The book was written by Jane Doe, a pioneering seventeenth century veterinarian.

Although these examples are non-restrictive, apposition can be restrictive as well:

  • The book is written by Jane Doe the local veterinarian.

Apposition can also take the form of a prepositional phrase:

  • … until the twin curses of famine and pestilence are lifted from the brows of mankind. (The “twin curses” are “famine and pestilence”).

Count Noun

In linguistics, a count noun (also countable noun) is a common noun that can be modified by a numeral and occur in both singular and plural form, as well as co-occurring with quantificational determiners like every, each, several, etc. A mass noun has none of these properties. It can’t be modified by a numeral, occur in singular/plural or co-occur with the relevant kind of determiner.


Below we see examples of all these properties for the count noun chair and the mass noun furniture. As always in discussion

  • Occurrence in plural/singular.

There is a chair in the room.

There are chairs in the room.

*There is a furniture in the room.

*There are furnitures in the room.

  • Co-occurrence with count determiners

Every chair is man made.

There are several chairs in the room.

*Every furniture is man made.

*There are several furnitures in the room.

Some determiners can be used with both mass and count nouns, including “some”, “a lot (of)”, “no”. Others cannot: “few” and “many” are used with count items, “little” and “much” with mass. (On the other hand “fewer” is reserved for count and “less” for mass, but “more” is the proper comparative for both “many” and “much”.)

Non_Count nouns

Non-count nouns do not have a singular or a plural form.  In a sentance, a noncount noun is treated like a singular noun and uses the verb form for singular nouns.

A and an cannot be used with noncount nouns.  However, noncount nouns that represent a collection or a mass may be preceded by a phrase that indicates quantity, or quantifier, such as a lot of, a little, some, much, any.

Example: I like some mustard on my hot dog.

(Not: I like a mustard on my hot dog.)

When used for generalizations, noncount nouns are used without an article:

Example: German Chancellor Helmut Kohl loves to eat hearty German food.

But–for definite meaning, noncount nouns can be preceded by the, that, and other determiners:

Example: Did you remember to bring the food for the party ?

  • count and non-count nouns : A count noun is one that can be counted.

Book-one book, two books, three books,…

Studebt-one student, two students, three students,…

Person-one person, two people, three people,…

A noun-count noun is one that cannot be counted.

Milk-you cannot say : one milk, two milks,..

It’s possible, however, to count some non-count nouns if the substance is placed in countable container.

Glass of milk-one glass of milk, two glasses of milk,..

Some determiners can be used only with count or noun-count nouns, while others can be used with either. Memorize the words in the following chart.

With Count Nouns                             With Non-Count Nouns

a, the, some, any The, some, any
This, that, these, those This, that
None, one, two, three,… none

A lot of

A {large/great} number of

(a) few



Much (usually in negatives or questions) 

A lot of

A large amount of

(a) little



Exercise-1 :

  • He doesn’t have (many/much) money.

Answer : Much

  • I would like (a few/a little) salt on my vegetables.

Answer : a few

  • She bought (that/those) cards last night.

Answer : those

  • There are (less/fewer) students in this room than in the next room.

Answer : less

  • There is (too much/too many) bad news on television tonight.

Answer : too much

  • I do not want (these/this) water.

Answer : this

  • This is (too many/too much) information to learn.

Answer : too much

  • A (few/little) people left early.

Answer : few

  • Would you like (less/fewer) coffe than this ?

Answer : fewer

  • This jacket costs (too much/too many).

Answer : too much

Exercise-2 :

  • Jason’s father bought him ___bicycle that he had wanted for his birthday.

Answer : Jason’s father bought him the bicycle that he had wanted for his birthday.

  • ___statue of liberty was a gift of friendship from____france to the United States.

Answer : the statue of liberty was a gift of friendship from france to the United States.

  • Rita is studying____english and___match this semester.

Answer : Rita is studying English and match this semester.

  • ____judge asked witness to tell___truth.

Answer : the judge asked witness to tell the truth.

  • Please give me___cup of____coffe with___cream and___sugar.

Answer : please give me a cup of coffe with a cream and sugar.

  • ___big books on ­­­the table are for my history class.

Answer : the big books on the the table are for my history class.

  • No one in the___spanish class knew____correct answer to____mrs perez’s question.

Answer : No one in the spanish class knew the correct answer to mrs perez’s question.

  • My__car is four years old and it still runs well.

Answer : My car is four years old and it still runs well.

  • When you go to___store, please buy__bottle of___chocolate milk and drozen oranges.

Answer : When you go to the store, please buy a bottle of chocolate milk and a drozen oranges.

  • There are only____few seats left for____tonight’s musical at_____university.

Answer : there are only few seats left for tonight’s musical at university.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. nice post


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