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Chapter 5. Nouns and noun phrases. Noun Phrases. NPs usually function as Subject The students have a presentation. ObjectThe students chose a group leader . PCShe is the group leader. ComplementWe were talking to a student . *preceded by a prep.

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Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Nouns and noun phrases

Noun phrases

Noun Phrases

NPs usually function as

  • SubjectThe students have a presentation.

  • ObjectThe students chose a group leader.

  • PCShe is the group leader.

  • ComplementWe were talking to a student.

    *preceded by a prep

Properties of prototypical nouns

Properties of Prototypical Nouns

A. Inflection: Nouns typically inflect for number (singular/plural) and case (plain/genitive)

student >students plain

student’s>students’ genitive

B. Function: Nouns are typically heads of phrases.

C. Dependents: Certain dependents occur in NPs

Determiners The students are preparing for their presentation.

Pre-head adjectives Careless students are fooling around.


Relative clauses Students who have presentations are nervous.


PP complement The loss of blood terrified me.

Chapter 5


Chapter 5

Subclasses of nouns

  • Pronouns he, she, mine, myself

  • Proper nouns Fatima, Riyadh, Olaya

  • Common nounstable, book, chair

Number and countability

Number and Countability

Number is the system contrasting singular and plural.

  • Nouns with fixed number

    A. Singular only nouns

    Nouns which have a singular form but no plural

    Footwear, nonsense, linguistics, italics, phonetics, news

    The final /s/ is not a plural marker. The news is good. Linguistics is a great class.

    B.Plural only nouns

    Nouns which have plural form but no singular

    Alms, clothes, scissors, cattle, police

    The police are helpful. The police have arrive.

Chapter 5

2. Count and non-count nouns

Furniture, chair

One chair, two chairs

*one furniture?

3. Subject verb agreement

Their dog eats a lot.

Their dogs eat a lot.

Determiners and determinatives

Determiners and Determinatives

Det can be part of the NP

The determiner position can be filled by:

DeterminativeThe city is crowded.

Determinative Phrase (DP)Almost all students passed.

Genitive NPHer child is sick.



Definiteness marks the NP as definite or indefinite.

Which determiners are definite and indefinite?

Definite: the, this, these, that, those, all, both, which, whichever, what, whatever.

N.B.: that is a demonstrative not a relative pronoun

Indefinite: a, each, ever, some, any, either, no another, a few, a little

Determinatives as modifiers

Determinatives as Modifiers

N.B.- Determinative = category, Determiner = Function

Some determinatives function as modifiers

Determinative phrases dp

Determinative Phrases (DP)

In DPs, the head is a determiner.

Dependents: other determiners which serve as modifiers preceding the head.

Not many people turned up.



The complement of the noun that corresponds to the object of the verb has the form of PP.

The properties of the PP complements.

a) They correspond to object or subject NPs in clause structure.

b) The choice of preposition is specified by the head noun.

c) The PP is obligatory because the noun makes little sense without it.

The fused head construction

The Fused head construction

  • The head is fused, or combined, with a dependent, and forms a single word.

  • Simple

    Kim has lots of friends, but Pat doesn’t seem to have any.

    2. Partitive

    Some of his remarks were quite flattering. (explicit)

    I have two photos of her, but both are out of focus.(implicit)

    3. Special

    Many would disagree with you on that point.

Chapter 5

  • Simple

    Kim has lots of friends, but Pat doesn’t seem to have any.

    The fused head can be expanded and retrieved from the context. For example, any can be expanded by adding any friends.

Chapter 5

2. Partitive

Some of his remarks were quite flattering. (explicit)

I have two photos of her, but both are out of focus.(implicit)

  • In an explicit partitive, the fused head is followed by a partitive PP complement. It is considered partitive because it means “some remarks from the set of his remarks.”

  • In the implicit partitive the of complement is understood rather than being overtly expressed. Both refers to both of them.

Chapter 5

3. Special

Many would disagree with you on that point

Many is understood as “many people” but this represents a special interpretation because people is not retrievable from the context.

Fused determiner head

Fused determiner-head

Simple They sent six copies though I had ordered eight.

Partitive They sent twenty copies but several were damaged.

SpecialThis is infuriating.

Almost all determiners can occur in this construction except the, a, every, and what.

Chapter 5

The, a, every

1. The is replaced by appropriate form of that.

The impact of war is more serious than the impact of drought.

The impact of war is more serious than that of drought.

2. A is replaced by one.

I need a pen but I haven’t got a pen.

I need a pen but I haven’t got one.

3. Every is replaced by everyone.

He inspected a dozen of cars but every dozen of cars was defective.

He inspected a dozen of cars but every one (of them) was defective.

Fused modifier heads

Fused Modifier Heads

An adjective serves as modifier and as head at the same time.

Simple: Should I wear the red shirt or the blue?

Partitive: The youngest of their children was still at school.

Special: The French don’t take these things too


Modifiers cannot fuse with the head as readily as determiners can:

Kim had hoped for a favorable review, but Pat wrote [a critical].*



Personal I like them. Your sister drives herself.

Reciprocal They dislike each other

We were helping one another.

InterrogativeWho saw them leave?

What do you want?

Relative The guy who helped us

The book which you recommended

Chapter 5

Personal pronoun

1st person I we

2nd person you you

3rd person he, she, it they


The masculine: used for males humans or animals (he)

The feminine : used for female, political entities, personified inanimate (she) France has recalled her ambassador.

The neutral: used for inanimates or for male and female animals (it)




The personal pronouns have a great a mount of inflectional variation than other nouns. In the first place there is a distinction between reflexive and non-reflexive forms, and secondly they have up to four case -forms.

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Chapter 5

Case in coordination

Kim and I went over there.

They invited Sally and me.

Genitive case (dependent and independent)

I’ve lost my key This is mine.

Reciprocal pronouns

Each other and one another.

They are similar to the reflexives in their complement use:

Lee and Pat cursed themselves

Genitive case

Genitive Case

Genitive NPs as subject-determiner

[The teacher’s car] was stolen.

They phoned [my mother].

Genitive vs possessive

The term ‘possessive’ is often used instead of ‘genitive’ especially for pronouns, but it is important to see that the semantic relation between the genitive NP and the following head is not limited to that of possession.

Consider these cases:

Her father, her infancy, her anger vs. her car.

Chapter 5

Other uses of the genitive

Subject She didn’t approve of [his being given a second chance].

Fused Head They accepted Kim’s proposal but not Pat’s.

Oblique The argument was sparked by a casual remark of Kim’s.

Predicative Everything in this room is Mary’s.

Attributive They have just moved to an old people’s home.

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