Structure: Noun Phrases I
You studied noun phrases when you were in Senior Secondary 1. You learned that a noun phrase is a phrase whose main word or head is a noun. Examples include a big bag, an empty treasury, the last drop of blood, my sister’s old handbag. (Note the main word in bold in each of the examples above)
Recognizing the Noun Phrase:
An expression that is a noun phrase usually begins with any of the articles a, an, or the. Consider the following examples:
1. A candidate in an examination hall … – WASSCE, June, 1998
2. An intelligent law official in the Ministry …
3. The courage to fail … – WASSCE, November, 1998
The noun phrase may also begin with a pronoun (my, his, her, our, their, etc), a gerund, or a ‘to + infinitive’
1. My mother’s love for pets.
2. His arrogant disposition toward his subordinates …\
A gerund is a verb that ends in –ing and functions as a noun.
… leaving his retinue of wives, children, servants, and relations behind … – WASSCE, June, 1993
When the root of a verb (infinitive) combines with the preposition ‘to’, the expression that results may function as a noun.
1. To + err = To err is human
2. To + visit = To visit my grandparents is always interesting
Functions of the Noun Phrase:
The noun phrase functions as a single noun in a sentence. It may function as:
a) a subject
b) an object
c) a complement
a) Noun Phrase as Subject
Consider the following sentence:
Kolo makes good benches. (Who makes good benches? – Kolo, a single noun. Therefore, Kolo is the subject of the sentence.)
We can change Kolo to a noun phrase. Suppose that Kolo is a carpenter who lives in a village, we can re-write the sentence to read thus:
The hardworking village carpenter makes good benches. Note that instead of Kolo (a single noun), we have used a phrase – The hardworking village carpenter. Just as Kolo is the subject of our original sentence, the hardworking village carpenter is the subject of the expanded sentence.
Source: Intensive English for Senior Secondary School 2 by B. O. Oluikpe et al
1. Oral English Without Tears by I. Udoka
2. New Oxford Secondary English Course for SSS2 by Ayo Banjo et al
3. Intensive English for SSS 2 by Benson O. Oluikpe et al
4. School Certificate English Language by I. Udoka