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Effectively using complex noun phrases makes your writing more academic and precise. Articles written by native speakers generally contain a lot of complex noun phrases and so studying these phrases will help you with reading comprehension as well.
This post will:
- …start with the basics of noun phrases.
- …help you to identify post modified noun phrases.
- …give you practice writing complex noun phrases.
The sofa (determiner + noun)
Fat cat (adjective + noun)
Our fattest cat (determiner + adjective + noun)
All the potatoes (quantifier + determiner + noun)
Both of my recent successes (quantifier + determiner + adjective + noun)
Post Modifying Nouns
Look at the examples of post modified nouns below. The main noun (head) is in bold.
- The percentage of people in full time work increased steadily.
- People owning their own homes are angry with the new tax.
- Both of the people who I share a flat with are nurses.
- I dislike the idea that public transportation is only for the poor.
I like anything to do with astronomy.
Each example shows a different structure post modifying the noun in bold. Let’s investigate what they are.
- Prepositional phrases (preposition + noun). Prepositional phrases starting with the preposition ‘of’ are very common in academic writing: the amount of… / the number of … / the percentage of …
- ing-verb phrase
- Relative clause
- 'That' clause (often used to explain, summarize or report)
- To Infinitive (to +verb) This is very common after indefinite pronouns and adverbs
Antique cars, which are bought in SE Asia, are resold in Australia
The noun ‘cars’ is pre modified with the adjective ‘antique’.
It is post modified with a relative clause (which…bought) and a prepositional clause (in…Asia).
Choose an option from the drop down box.
Arrange the sentences by clicking on a word, then clicking again on a gap.
If you got all these correct great job. To improve your use of complex noun phrases you should:
- Notice how nouns are modified when you are doing reading practice with academic texts written by native speakers.
- Notice how nouns are modified when you are reading example task 1 and 2 responses written by tutors or examiners.
- Try and use complex noun phrases when you write so you become more used to incorporating them into how you communicate.
We hope this has been useful for you. Leave a comment below if you have any questions.
Check out Complex Noun Phrases Quiz 2 for more!