Sabtu, 11 Juni 2011


What is a phrase?

A phrase is a syntactic structure that consists of more than one word but lacks the subject-predicate organization of a clause.
Allowance may be made on a theory-specific basis for single-word, minimal instances of phrases.
Example: A noun as a minimal instance of a noun phrase.
Here are some kinds of phrases:
A phrase is a kind of

Complete Reference: The Noun Phrase

Full References

The discussion of the choice of language noted that a single concept is often signaled by a variety of words, each word possessing slightly different connotations. We can indicate that people are less than content by saying they are angry , irate , incensed , perturbed , upset , furious , or mad. The broader our vocabulary, the greater our options and the more precisely we can convey our meaning. And yet no matter how wide our vocabulary may be, a single word is often insufficient. A single word, by itself, can appear somewhat vague, no matter how specific that word might seem. The term “dog” may be specific compared to “mammal,” but it is general compared to “collie.” And “collie” is general compared to “Lassie.” Then again, many different dogs played Lassie!
Suppose you want to indicate a female person across the room. If you don’t know her name, what do you say?   
That girl.
If there were more than one, this alone would be too general. It lacks specificity.
                          The girl in the blue Hawaiian shirt…
                        The taller of the two cheerleaders by the water cooler…
When a single term will not supply the reference we need, we add terms to focus or limit a more general term. Instead of referring to drugs in a discussion, we might refer to hallucinogenic drugs. We might distinguish between hard drugs and prescription drugs . In so doing we modify the notion of a drug to describe the specific one, or ones, we have in mind. (Then again, at times we are forced to use many words when we cannot recall the one that will really do, as when we refer to that funny device doctors pump up on your arm to measure blood pressure instead of a sphygmomanometer ).
This section examines how we construct full and specific references using noun phrases. An ability to recognize complete noun phrases is essential to reading ideas rather than words. A knowledge of the various possibilities for constructing extended noun pharses is essential for crafting precise and specific references.


To begin our discussion, we must first establish the notion of a noun.   
English teachers commonly identify nouns by their content.    They describe nouns as words that "identify people, places, or things," as well as feelings or ideas—words like salesman , farm , balcony , bicycle , and trust.    If you can usually put the word a or the before a word, it’s a noun. If you can make the word plural or singular, it's a noun. But don't worry...all that is needed at the moment is a sense of what a noun might be.   

Noun Pre-Modifiers

What if a single noun isn't specific enough for our purposes?      How then do we modify a noun to construct a more specific reference?    
English places modifiers before a noun.    Here we indicate the noun that is at the center of a noun phrase by an asterisk (*) and modifiers by arrows pointed toward the noun they modify.
white   house

large     man

Modification is a somewhat technical term in linguistics. It does not mean to change something, as when we "modify" a car or dress. To modify means to limit, restrict, characterize, or otherwise focus meaning. We use this meaning throughout the discussion here.
Modifiers before the noun are called pre-modifiers.    All of the pre-modifiers that are present and the noun together form a noun phrase .

pre-modifiers noun


By contrast, languages such as Spanish and French place modifiers after the noun

casa blanca       white house

homme grand       big man
The most common pre-modifiers are adjectives, such as red , long , hot . Other types of words often play this same role.    Not only articles
the       water


but also verbs
running      water
and possessive pronouns
her      thoughts


Premodifiers limit the reference in a wide variety of ways.   
                          Order:                            second, last
                          Location:                        kitchen, westerly
                          Source or Origin:            Canadian
                          Color:                            red, dark
                          Smell:                             acrid, scented
                          Material:                         metal, oak
                          Size:                               large, 5-inch
                          Weight:                          heavy
                          Luster:                            shiny, dull
A number of pre-modifiers must appear first if they appear at all.
                          Specification:                              a, the, every
                          Designation:                                this, that, those, these
                          Ownership/Possessive:               my, your, its, their, Mary’s
              Number:                                     one, many
These words typically signal the beginning of a noun phrase.   
Some noun phrases are short:
                                      the table
                                      ®       *            
Some are long:
the second shiny red Swedish touring sedan


a large smelly red Irish setter


my carved green Venetian glass salad bowl


the three old Democratic legislators

Notice that each construction would function as a single unit within a sentence.    (We offer a test for this below,)
The noun phrase is the most common unit in English sentences.    That prevalence can be seen in the following excerpt from an example from the section on the choice of language:
The stock market’s summer swoon turned into a dramatic rout
Monday as the Dow Jones industrial average plunged. The stock market’s summer swoon turned into   a dramatic rout    *                                *
Monday as the Dow Jones industrial average plunged.
     *                    *
To appreciate the rich possibilities of pre-modifiers, you have only to see how much you can expand a premodifier in a noun phrase:
the book
the history book
the American history book
the illustrated American history book
the recent illustrated American history book
the recent controversial illustrated American history book
the recent controversial illustrated leather bound American history book

Noun Post-Modifiers

We were all taught about pre -modifiers: adjectives appearing before a noun in school.    Teachers rarely speak as much about adding words after the initial reference.    Just as we find pre -modifiers, we also find    post -modifiers—modifiers coming after a noun.
The most common post-modifier is prepositional phrases:
the book on the table

civil conflict in Africa

the Senate of the United States
Post-modifiers can be short
a dream deferred
or long, as in Martin Luther King Jr.’s reference to
a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves
and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together
at a table of brotherhood.
What does King have?    A dream?    No. He has a specific dream. Once we are sensitive to the existence of noun phrases, we recognize a relatively simple structure to the sentence.   Here we recognize a noun phrase with a very long post-modifier—thirty-two words to be exact.
We do not get lost in the flow of words, but recognize structure. At the point that we recognize structure within the sentence, we recognize meaning. (Notice also that post-modifiers often include clauses which themselves include complete sentences, as in the last example above.)
Post-modifiers commonly answer the traditional news reporting questions of who , what , where , when , how , or why .    Noun post-modifiers commonly take the following forms:
prepositional phrase                the dog in the store
_ing phrase                              the girl running to the store
_ed past tense                          the man wanted by the police
wh - clauses                              the house where I was born
that/which clauses                  the thought that I had yesterday
If you see a preposition, wh - word ( which, who, when where ), -ing verb form, or that or which after a noun, you can suspect a post-modifier and the completion of a noun phrase.  
The noun together with all pre- and post-modifiers constitutes a single unit, a noun phrase that indicates the complete reference. Any agreement in terms of singular/plural is with the noun at the center.
The boys on top of the house    are .............
Here the noun at the center of the noun phrase is plural, so a plural form of the verb is called for (not a singular form to agree with the singular house) .

The Pronoun Test

In school, we were taught that pronouns replaced nouns .    Not so.    Pronouns replace complete noun phrases .    Pronoun replacement thus offers a test of a complete noun phrase. Consider:
The boy ate the apple in the pie.
What did he eat?   
                          The boy ate                the apple in the pie.
Want proof? Introduce the pronoun “it” into the sentence.    If a pronoun truly replaces a noun, we’d get                                  
*The boy ate                  the it in the pie.
No native speaker would say that!    They’d say
              The boy ate               it.
The pronoun replaces the complete noun phrase, the apple in the pie .
This pronoun substitution test can be particualrly useful. Not all prepositional phrases after a noun are necessarily part of the noun phrase – they could be later predicate or sentence modifiers. In other words, we must not only identify noun phrases, we must parse out other material, and in that act recognize broader aspects of sentence structure. The web page on distinguishing sentence and predicate modifiers ( discusses the three sentences:
  1. 1. The boy ate the apple in the pie.
  2. 2. The boy ate the apple in the summer.
  3. 3. The boy ate the apple in a hurry.
Only the first includes a noun phrase longer than two words: the apple in the pie.

Boxes Within Boxes: Testing for a Complete Noun Phrase

The goal of reading, we noted above, is not to recognize grammatical features, but to find meaning.    The goal is not to break a sentence or part of a sentence into as small pieces as possible, but to break it into chunks in such a way that fosters the discovery of meaning.   
Consider one of the examples above of a prepositional phrase as a post-modifier:
                          the book on the table
Book is a noun at the center of the noun phrase.    But table is also a noun.    If we analyze the noun phrase completely, on all levels, we find:
                          the book on the table
on the table
         ®    *
We can have prepositional phrase within prepositional phrase within prepositional phrases:
                          …the book on the table in the kitchen…
                                           on the table in the kitchen…
                                                                 in the kitchen
We don't want to recognize every little noun phrase.   We want to recognize the larger ones that shape the meaning.     The book is not "on the table."    The book is "on the table in the kitchen."
The Senate of the United States is composed of two legislators from each State.
Question: Who is in the Senate?   
          a) two legislators
           b) two legislators from each State?
The answer is b). The full Senate consists of two from each state (100 people), not simply two! We read the sentence as
The Senate of the United States         is composed of          
two legislators from each State.
If we read the sentence as
The Senate of the United States         
is composed of two legislators            
from each State.
we miss the meaning.
Earlier we noted that pre -modifiers in noun phrase can be expanded to significant length. For the most part, we increased the length of the pre-modifier by adding additional adjectives, a word or two at a time.    Noun phrase post -modifiers can be expanded to much greater lengths.    We can add long phrases which themselves contain complete sentences.
              the park where I hit a home run when I was in the ninth grade .     
The sentence within the post-modifier is printed in boldface.
The following sentence indicates something was lost.    What was lost?
He lost the book by Mark Twain about the Mississippi that he took out of the library on Sunday before the game so that he could study during half time when his brother was getting popcorn.
The answer is the complete phrase
……… the book by Mark Twain about the Mississippi that he took out of the library on Sunday before the game so that he could study during half time when his brother was getting popcorn.
The base term book is modified as to author (Mark Twain), topic (about the Mississippi), as well as intent or purpose (that he took out of the library on Sunday before the game so that he could study during half time when his brother was getting popcorn.)    We assume that he has another book by Twain about the Mississippi that he did not lose.    Want proof?    What would be replaced by “it”?   
The full reference of a noun phrase is often “conveniently” ignored in movie advertisements. Janet Maslin, movie critic for The New York Times , complained when an advertisement for the video tape of John Grisham’s "The Rainmaker" quoted her as describing the movie as director Francis Ford Coppola’s “best and sharpest film,” when, in fact, her review stated:
John Grisham’s "The Rainmaker" is Mr. Coppola’s best and sharpest film in years. (1)
The original quotation does not refer to the “best and sharpest film” of Coppola’s career, but to his “best and sharpest film in years.”

Noun Phrases: The Dominant Construction

Finally, the degree to which noun phrases are the dominant construction within texts can be seen in the opening paragraph of the Text for Discussion: Annotation - Needle Exchange Programs and the Law - Time for a Change. The complete noun phrases appear within square brackets and appear in red. (1) In [ his social history of venereal disease ], [ No Magic Bullet ], [ Allan M.   Brandt ]describes[ the controversy in the US military about preventing venereal disease among soldiers during World War I ].   Should there be [ a disease prevention effort that recognized that many young American men would succumb to the charms of French prostitutes ], or should there be [ a more punitive approach to discourage sexual contact ]?    Unlike[ the New Zealand Expeditionary forces ], which gave[ condoms ]to[ their soldiers ],[ the United States ]decided to give [ American soldiers ][after-the-fact, and largely ineffective, chemical prophylaxis ].  [ American soldiers ]also were subject to [ court martial ] if they contracted[ a venereal disease ].  [ These measures ] failed.   [ More than 383,000 soldiers ]were diagnosed with[ venereal diseases ]between April 1917 and December 1919 and lost [ seven million days of active duty ].  [ Only influenza ], which struck in [ an epidemic ], was [ a more common illness among servicemen ].  

Implications For Reading and Writing

The above discussion introduces a number of concepts crucial to effective reading and writing.   
  • We do not read texts word by word, but chunk by chunk.    We must read each grammatical construction as a single unit. Deciphering sentences involves isolating phrases within a sentence and recognizing where long phrases begin and end.
  • To write well is not to string words together, but to string together larger phrases, to create full references that carefully distinguish one idea from another, going beyond talking in vague generalities.    We can increase the clarity and sophistication of our thought by using extended phrases instead of single words.
Sophisticated thought is qualified thought. Intelligent discussion goes beyond either/or or black-or-white views of the world to recognize nuances and distinctions.
Remarks can be
  • extended (made broader or more general) ,
  • qualified (restricted in some way), or
  • limited (made more specific or less encompassing).
We don’t really make sentences longer by adding at the end so much as expanding each chunk Good writers carefully distinguish between all, most, many , some, few, and one. They specify the specific time, condition, or circumstances an assertion is true. Some claims are made for certain, some "in all probability" or "within a specific margin of error," some for given conditions.
Good writers carefully distinguish between all, most, many, some, few, and one. They specify the specific time, condition, or circumstances an assertion is true. Some claims are made for certain, some "in all probability" or "within a specific margin of error," some for given conditions.
When drawing careful distinctions, authors are not being wishy-washy or nit picking. They are simply being precise. They are saying exactly what they want to say or feel secure in saying based on the available evidence. Weak writers can achieve an immediate gain in the level of thought of their writing by taking advantages of the opportunities for adding pre- and post-modifiers.
For writers, this model is a reminder of the opportunity to extend, limit, or otherwise shape a specific idea. You can greatly increase the sophistication and depth of thought of your work by taking advantage of these pre- and post-modifier "slots". Having written a statement, you might go back in editing to see how you can further shape your thoughts by making use of these slots.
The Constitution is the nation’s charter, and lawmakers should resist the temptation to push for amendments every time an election year rolls around.


We have seen already in the Preliminary section that Adjective is a word which gives an additional detail about the meaning of a noun.

An adjective may be a word or a group of words with the same meaning.


• Mr. Clinton is wealthy man.

What kind of man is Mr. Clinton is answered by the word ‘wealthy’. The same word can be replaced with a group of words ‘of great wealth’.

• Mr. Clinton is a man of great wealth.

Both these sentences convey the same meaning but different adverbs.

The phrase ‘of great wealth’ means the same what the word ‘wealthy’ means.
The phrase ‘of great wealth’ is an adjective.

The adjective in a group of words is called ADJECTIVE PHRASE.


• The Politician is a kind man.
This sentence can be worded in different manner using a different adjective phrase.

• The Politician is man of kindly nature.
The phrase ‘of kindly nature’ is an adjective phrase.


• These students belonged to the hill tribe.

• The students belong to the tribe dwelling in the hills.


• June-23 is the longest day.

Adverb Phrase

As we have seen already in the section on Adverb, Adverb is a word which gives an additional detail about the meaning of a verb or an adjective or another adverb.

In many sentences, the adverb need not be a word. An adverb may be a phrase as in the following sentences.

Just as the work of an adjective is done by ‘a group of words’ called Adjective-phrase, so the work of an adverb can be done by ‘a group of words’ which is called ‘ADVERB-PHRASE’.


Clinton ran quickly.
In this sentence, the adverb ‘quickly’ gives another detail about the verb ‘ran’.

• Clinton ran with great speed.
In this sentence, the same meaning has been conveyed by using ‘a group of words’-‘with great speed’.

In this same manner, the meaning of an adverb can be conveyed by using different a group of words.

That group of words is called ADVERB-PHRASE.

In the following sentences, the first sentence and the second sentence in a pair convey the same meaning but using adverb in the first sentence and adverb-phrase in the second sentence.

• He answered rudely.
• He answered in a rude manner.

• He does his work carelessly.
• He does his work without care.

• No such diseases were known then.
• No such diseases were known in those days.

• The mango fell here.
• The mango fell on this spot.

• This product is available everywhere.
• This product is available in all places.

• You can find the pencil there.
• You can find the pencil in that place.

• He has gone abroad.
• He has gone to a foreign nation.

• We constructed this house only recently.
• We constructed this house only few months back.

An Adverb phrase is a group of words that does the work of an adverb.

In grammar, a noun phrase, nominal phrase, or nominal group[1] (abbreviated NP) is a phrase based on a noun, pronoun, or other noun-like word (nominal) optionally accompanied by modifiers such as adjectives.[2]
Noun phrases are very common cross-linguistically, but some languages like Tuscarora and Cayuga have been argued[by whom?] to lack this construct.


Noun phrases normally consist of a head noun, which is optionally modified ("premodified" if the modifier appears before the noun; "postmodified" if the modifier follows the noun). Possible modifiers include:
  • determiners: articles (the, a), demonstratives (this, that), numerals (two, five, etc.), possessives (my, their, etc.), and quantifiers (some, many, etc.). In English, determiners are usually placed before the noun;
  • adjectives (the red ball); or
  • complements, in the form of a prepositional phrase (such as: the student of physics), or a That-clause (the claim that the earth is round);
  • modifiers; pre-modifiers if before the noun and usually either as nouns (the university student) or adjectives (the beautiful lady), or post-modifiers if after the noun. A postmodifier may be either a prepositional phrase (the man with long hair) or a relative clause (the house where I live). The difference between modifiers and complements is that complements complete the meaning of the noun; complements are necessary, whereas modifiers are optional because they add information about the noun.
Noun phrases can make use of an apposition structure. This means that the elements in the noun phrase are not in a head-modifier relationship, but in a relation of equality. An example of this is I, Caesar, declare ..., where "Caesar" and "I" do not modify each other.[citation needed]
The head of a noun phrase can be implied, as in "The Bold and the Beautiful" or Robin Hood's "rob from the rich and give to the poor"; an implied noun phrase is most commonly used as a generic plural referring to human beings.[3] Another example of noun phrase with implied head is I choose the cheaper of the two.[citation needed]
That noun phrases can be headed by elements other than nouns—for instance, pronouns (They came) or determiners (I'll take these)—has given rise to the postulation of a determiner phrase instead of a noun phrase. The English language is stricter than some other languages with regard to possible noun phrase heads. German, for instance, allows adjectives as heads of noun phrases[citation needed], as in Gib mir die Alten for Give me the olds (i.e. old ones).[citation needed]
In addition to pronouns and demonstratives, numerals and adjectives may function as the head of the noun phrase, and take modifiers as a noun would. For example, The Secret Seven, something wild, the first few, we three, all this, only you, just mine.[4]

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