Noun clause and noun phrases

A phrase is a group of closely related words that function together as a single element, such as subject, verb, adjective, or adverb where as a clause contains a subject and a predicate (verb of sentence).

A noun clause and a noun phrase both have the function of a noun in the sentence, so don’t become confused when determining whether a sentence is a either a noun phrase or a noun clause.


noun phrases and noun clauses


1)       ‘I didn’t know what I should do’, part of ‘what I should do’ works as a noun like his name and it contains a subject so it is called a noun clause.

2)      ‘I didn’t know what to do’, part of ‘what to do’ also works as a noun but it doesn’t have the subject, so it is called a noun phrase.

Noun phrases:

Noun phrases normally consist of a head noun, which is modified. There are two types of modifiers:

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

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Eg: 1) We brought a car

3)      He owned two houses.

  • Complements: Prepositions (of,at etc.) , That clause (that)

Eg: 1) He lives at Ameerpet.

2) He claims that earth is round. (all passive voice sentences comes under this)

  • Modifiers: Pre modified: If the modifier is placed before the noun like (the university student) or  adjectives (the beautiful boy) and

Post modified: if the modifier is placed after the noun. A post modifier may be prepositional like (the woman with hand bag).

The difference between complements and modifiers is:

Complements complete the meaning of the noun and are necessary, whereas modifiers are optional because they just give additional information about the noun.

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