You won’t believe ‘phrase’ can be learned so easily! Simplifying Noun and Adjective phrase | English Grammar

Summary of the Post:

     1) What is phrase?                      

     2) Types of phrases

     3) Noun phrase

             3.1) How to identify? 

     4) Adjective phrase

           4.1) How to identify? 

     5) Noun phrase VS Adjective phrase

When it comes to phrase, many non-native English speakers often get confused and frightened. Because seriously most of the answers available on the internet or YouTube are very complicated for not only to understand but also to remember.

But I’ve decided to give you a short, easily understandable answer instead of long-boring-critical answer. The simplicity yet effectiveness of this post might wonder you!

In this 1st post, you’ll learn about Noun and Adjective phrases. To master fully on all 5 phrases, please also check out the 2nd post where you’ll learn Verb, Adverb, and Prepositional phrases and the summary of all 5 phrases.

Now, let’s dive into the heart of this post.


1) What is phrase?

The answer can be very simple like this.

Phrase is:

    • A group of words (2/more words),
    • There’s no Subject-Verb combination, and
    • That group of words has a meaning but not a complete sentence (if used alone),

For example, ‘Excellent job’ is a phrase.

Why? Because it’s more than 1 word which has a specific meaning, there’s no Subject-Verb combination, and it’s not a complete sentence.


2) Types of phrases:

Phrases are mainly 5 types, which are:

    • Noun phrase,
    • Adjective phrase,
    • Verb phrase,
    • Adverb phrase, and
    • Prepositional phrase.

As in this post we’re going to discuss only first 2 phrases, so let’s get into the bigger picture of what Noun and Adjective phrases are.


3) Noun phrase:

So, what is Noun phrase? A phrase will be considered as Noun phrase if it has the following characteristics:

    • A group of words (2/more words) headed by a Noun/Pronoun.
    • The whole group acts like a noun (in that sentence).
    • Usually, it works either as Subject /Object.
    • The other associated words specify the central Noun/Pronoun.


3.1) How to identify Noun phrase?

You’ve just learned what Noun phrase is, Great! Now let’s master how you can identify Noun phrase easily in literally any kinds of sentence.

Firstly, in order to identify Noun phrase, it’s really useful to have clear idea on Subject & Object. It’s really easy. But in case you don’t have, check out my other post on it.

For the sake of now, just remember the following formula—

    • Simply, ask Verb by – ‘who/what/whom’,
    • Whatever you get – that’s your Noun/Pronoun, &
    • If it’s 2/more words – then it’s Noun phrase.

Example:  Ana likes her.

    • Here if you ask ‘who like her’, you’ll get the Subject ‘Ana’, which is a Noun. 
    • Now ask ‘they like whom’, you’ll get the Object ‘her’, which is a Pronoun also.
    • So, they could be your Noun phrase (as they’re Noun/Pronoun), but why they are not?

Because both of them have only 1 word, but to be a phrase, that word combination MUST have to be at least 2 words (or more).

But if you say, “They like her business knowledge.”

    • Now ask, ‘they like what’? You’ll get the answer, ‘her business knowledge’; so it’s your Object, means it’s your Noun/Pronoun.
    • And as it’s more than 1 word, so it becomes ‘Noun phrase’.


Let’s look at another example “He went to the party”.     

    • ‘Who went to the party’? ‘He’. So, here ‘he’ is your Subject (Pronoun).
    • But as it’s 1 word, so it’s not a phrase.
    • Wait! Is ‘to the party’ also a phrase? Yes, it is! But it’s not headed by a Noun/Pronoun so it’s not a Noun phrase.

However, when you say,  “His lovely parrot went to the party”.

    • Again by asking, ‘who went to the party?’ you’ll get this Subject, ‘his lovely parrot’ which is acting as a Noun and it’s more than 1 word, means it’s your Noun Phrase.

Easy, right?

Let’s move onto the second important phrase.


4) Adjective phrase:

Adjective phrase is –

    • A group of words (2/more words) headed by an Adjective.
    • The whole group of words (Adjective phrase) act like an Adjective.
    • It modifies N/Pronoun in that sentence.


    1. My kitten is cute.
    2. The kitten is amazingly cute.
    3. The kitten in the middle is mine.

Can you guess which sentence has an Adjective phrase and which sentence hasn’t?

Let’s go together.

    • In the 1st example, if you ask, ‘who is cute’, your answer would be ‘my kitten’, so it’s your Noun,
    • Here, the word ‘cute’ is modifying that Noun (‘my kitten’), so the word ‘cute’ is Adjective. (But remember, it’s not Adjective phrase, as it’s only 1 word).

    • However, in the 2nd example, ‘amazingly cute’ is also modifying the Noun ‘my kitten’ but it’s 2 words, so it’s Adjective Phrase.
    • Likewise, in the 3rd example, the words ‘in the middle’ is modifying the Noun ‘the kitten’, so it’s acting as an Adjective, plus it’s 2/more words, therefore it’s your Adjective phrase.

So simply put,

      1. My kitten is cute.   (Not phrase as only 1 word)
      2. The kitten is amazingly cute.    (Adjective phrase as 2 words & modifying Noun)
      3. The kitten in the middle is mine.   (Adjective phrase as 2 words & modifying Noun)


4.1) How to identify Adjective phrase?


      • Adjective always modifies – Noun/Pronoun,
      • Therefore, first identify your Noun/Pronoun and then find out which word(s) modifying that Noun/Pronoun,
      • If it’s 1 word – then Adjective.
      • If 2/more words – then Adjective phrase.


5) Noun phrase VS Adjective phrase:

Wondering what exactly the difference is between Noun and Adjective phrase? Here’s my simplest answer for you.

Noun phrase:
✓Has 2/more words,
✓Has No Sub-Verb combination,
✓Has a meaning but can’t make a complete sentence alone.
Adjective phrase:
✓Has 2/more words,
✓Has a Sub-Verb combination,
✓Has a meaning but can’t make a complete sentence alone.
However, the only difference is:

Noun phrase headed by a Noun/Pronoun and specify that central Noun/Pronoun.
On the contrary, 
• Adjective phrase headed by an Adjective but modify Noun/Pronoun.


I hope Noun and Adjective phrases are now much easier to you, awesome! 

Check out the following video attached below to get more clarity, here you’ll find more examples with pictures.


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Thanks for reading.

Happy Learning!

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