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Noun phrases - determiners & premodifiers

1. Noun phrases: determiners (a, the, my, his, some, this, etc.)

Determiners come first in a noun phrase (e.g. the big black car). They include:

articles: a/an, the

demonstratives: this, that, these, those

possessive determiners: my, your, his, her, etc.

quantifiers: some, any, all, enough, no, every, etc.

numerals: one, two, three, etc.

interrogative words: which, what, whose

Determiners show the type of reference the noun phrase makes. The reference may be definite (the), indefinite (a/an), demonstrative (this, that, these, those), possessive (my, our, their, etc.). Determiners can also indicate number or quantity (e.g. seven, all, some, no). (Determiners are in bold; heads are underlined.):

This room is the guest bedroom.

Your sister rang while you were at the shop.

Every time I see him he’s wearing no shoes.

Which box do you want?

2. Noun phrases: premodifiers (big, good, red)

Premodifiers consist of single adjectives, adjective phrases, single nouns and noun phrases which are used before the head in a noun phrase.

a. Adjective premodifiers

Adjectives describe the qualities or features of a noun. Common adjectives include nice, big, bad, happy, black, beautiful, new. (Adjectives and adjective phrases are in bold; heads are underlined.):

b. Nouns acting as premodifiers (Hard)

Nouns can act as premodifiers in noun phrases. They specify particular aspects or features of the noun, such as type, material, etc. (Premodifier nouns are in bold; heads are underlined.):

Nouns which act as premodifiers are singular, even when the head is plural:

Four metal cylinders were attached to the machine.

Not: Four metals cylinders were attached to the machine.

You can get really good, cheap leather jackets in Marrakesh.

Noun phrase modifiers indicating time or measurements are singular in form even when their meaning is plural. Hyphens are normally used in the modifying expression:

an eight-hour flight a three-day tour of Amsterdam a two-litre bottle

Not: an eight-hours flight


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