What Are Noun Phrases? (with Examples)
What Are Noun Phrases? (with Examples)A noun phrase is a phrase that plays the role of a noun. The head word in a noun phrase will be a noun or a pronoun. In the examples below, the whole noun phrase is shaded and the head word is in bold.
- I like singing in the bath.
- I know the back streets.
- I've met the last remaining chief.
- I like it.
- I know them.
- I've met him.
Like any noun, a noun phrase can be a subject, an object, or a complement.
Examples of Noun PhrasesNoun phrases are extremely common. A noun with any sort of modifier (including just a number or an article) is a noun phrase. Here are some examples of noun phrases:
- The best defense against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off. (Anon) (In this example, there is a noun phrase within a noun phrase. The noun phrase the atom bomb is the object of the preposition against. The prepositional phrase against the atom bomb modifies defense.)
- I don't have a bank account, because I don't know my mother's maiden name. (Paula Poundstone) (In this example, both noun phrases are direct objects.)
- The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it. (Dudley Moore, 1935-2002) (In this example, the first noun phrase is the subject, and the second is a subject complement.)
- Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. (Albert Einstein, 1879-1955)
Noun Clauses, Noun Phrases, and Single WordsNot all grammarians agree on the definitions of clauses and phrases. For some, the term phrase covers everything. In other words, for them, a clause is a type of phrase, and a single word is just a short phrase. Here at Grammar Monster, we go with the following:
- Single Word. A single word is not a phrase.
- Phrase. A phrase plays the role of one part of speech and has at least two words.
- Clause. A clause plays the role of one part of speech and has a subject and a verb. (Note: On occasion, the subject may be implied.)
- Anybody who wants the presidency so much that he'll spend two years organizing and campaigning for it is not to be trusted with the office. (David Broder)