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The noun phrase

07/12/2012

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The noun phrase
By TE Editor Created 2 May 2005 - 12:00 TeachingEnglish The noun phrase Submitted by TE Editor on 2 May, 2005 - 12:00 For too long now the verb phrase has been the dominant focus of attention in course books, syllabuses, and teacher training programmes. Any teacher worth his/her salt will be able to tell you everything there is to know about base verbs, infinitives, progressives, perfectives, passives, and modals. But, please, let's not forget the noun phrase! Why? Because the noun phrase is a quintessential part of every sentence (even if it doesn't appear in the surface structure of a sentence as in "stop!"), it is potentially infinite in length, and it can include any number of other phrases (e.g. noun, adjective, adverb) within its structure. What is a noun phrase? The structure of noun phrases Noun phrases in class Conclusion

What is a noun phrase? Before we go any further, let's remind ourselves of what a noun phrase is. My definition is: A noun phrase is either a pronoun or any group of words that can be replaced by a pronoun. For example, 'they', 'cars', and 'the cars' are noun phrases, but 'car' is just a noun, as you can see in these sentences (in which the noun phrases are all in bold)

Q: Do you like cars? A: Yes, I like them. Q: Do you like the cars over there? A: Yes, they are nice. Q: Do you like the car I bought last week? A: Yes, I like it. (Note: 'It' refers to 'the car', not 'car')
If you are a little puzzled at this point, try and think of some further examples of noun phrases using the definition above, and compare your examples with simple nouns. The structure of noun phrases As I said, noun phrases can be infinite in length, but they would sound absurd if they got too long. So let's take the following noun phrase as our working model:

"The very tall education consultant with the roving eye"
The structure of this noun phrase contains three sections:

Pre-modification The =determiner very =adverb (intensifying) tall = adjective education = pre-modifying noun
Head noun

consultant
Post-modification

with the roving eye = preposition phrase

Of course, each and every part of the noun phrase can be changed, but here is a summary of some fundamental changes in which it could changed:
http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/print/517 1/3

I tell them where the front of the noun phrase should be . I use a lot of authentic and contrastive reading input so that the students can formulate appropriate language.org. but they can be extremely complex in how they manifest themselves in actual language. One example is: "The / very / tall / blonde / girl / who / has got / a small pink case" I encourage students to write noun phrases which are appropriate to the register they're aiming for. but this time with big brown eyes. you can use visual information about the students in your class as verbal prompts! You might expect your students to say: "The boy with the big brown eyes is looking out of the window. So 'The very tall education consultant with the roving eye' can become 'The tall education consultant with the roving eye' (here 'very' has been deleted). 'Do you remember the time I bumped into you in the park?' can become 'Do you remember the first time I bumped into you in the park?' There can be 'embedding' (e.' A numeral or cardinal could be inserted after the determiner. for an ESP class who need to give papers / presentations. Oxford University Press Paul Bress 1102 Tag Any age Core teaching Course and Lesson Planning Methodology/approaches Presentation/input Teaching competencies Vocabulary http://www. I then cut up the sentence into the different words of the noun phrase.g. such as 'Thanks for your email' (neutral). I then give each word to different individual students.and the end. I also tell the students only to show their word to one student at a time.teachingenglish. and 'We thank you for your correspondence' (formal. This makes the activity more demanding and more fun. This keeps students on their toes and gets them to practise the grammar in an entertaining way.uk/print/517 2/3 . you can use input that focuses on formal. I sometimes show my students a picture of a boy with brown eyes. where the noun phrase can be elided). There could be a string of adjectives (and pre-modifying nouns) instead of just one.' Or 'The world cup football competition. Any part of the noun phrase can simply be stripped away (apart from the word 'The' here. If you're teaching a general English class. Noun phrases in class But how can a teacher help students use noun phrases in a more accurate way? And how can a teacher help students to use them in a way that is more appropriate to the register of the target discourse? I have four suggestions to make. Cambridge University Press Miller and Weinert Spontaneous Spoken Discourse. as 'consultant' is not a noun phrase in itself). 'the roving eye' is also a noun phrase and can be made more complex in the same way as 'the…consultant'!) 'The roving eye which he had cultivated for so many years'. For example. Both of these systems have their own structural rules.The noun phrase 07/12/2012 A relative clause could replace the preposition phrase. The students with a bit of paper then stand up and have to rearrange themselves so that the noun phrase makes sense. So noun phrases really shouldn't be ignored by coursebook / syllabus writers or teachers. All these people can help students understand how noun phrases fit into the syntax of a sentence. To reinforce this understanding. 'The man with the hat' becomes 'The man who is wearing the hat'. 'The big brown wooden box. noun phrases and verb phrases are equally important. Further reading Giorgi and Longobardi The Syntax of Noun Phrases." I sometimes write a long noun phrase down on a piece of paper. and informal register. To sum up. 'Ta' (informal. all of which I constantly use with my students: I encourage students to understand what a noun phrase is. produce more complex noun phrases (as they become more advanced). I ask my students to study texts and answer such questions as "What pronoun could this noun phrase be replaced by?" and "What noun phrase does this pronoun refer to?" I provide interesting prompts to encourage students to use noun phrases. Conclusion In conclusion. where there is a full sentence and the lexical item is more abstract). neutral. For example. and then I show exactly the same boy. and become aware of how noun phrases operate differently in different registers. noun phrases are very simple ideas in themselves. If you have no pictures.

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