What is a Noun Phrase? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 Noun Phrases
  • 1:26 Subjects
  • 1:43 Direct Objects
  • 2:08 Complements
  • 2:50 Purpose & Use
  • 3:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

In this lesson, we'll discuss noun phrases and how they function in sentences. You'll also learn that noun phrases are an effective way to add additional information to your writing, without creating wordy sentences.

Noun Phrases

A noun phrases is a phrase that functions in the same way as a noun. Noun phrases are also called noun clauses. A noun phrase always includes a noun, which is a person, place, or thing; or a pronoun, which takes the place of a noun. This pronoun can be a subject pronoun or an indefinite pronoun. Noun phrases also include words that modify the noun, or set it apart, so we know which noun we are talking about.

Let's take a look at a noun phrase that uses a regular noun:

  • The crazy brown dog went running through the mud.

The noun phrase in this sentence would be 'the crazy brown dog.' It tells us exactly which dog we're talking about.

This example uses a subject pronoun:

  • We who run the festival would like to thank the volunteers who helped with the event.

In this case, 'We who run the festival' is a noun phrase that begins with a pronoun. It tells us exactly who would like to thank: the volunteers.

An indefinite pronoun is a non-specific pronoun; that is, it does not refer to a specific person, place, or thing. Examples of indefinite pronouns include anybody, everyone, everything, nothing, and someone. Here's an example using this type of pronoun:

  • The automobile accident damaged someone's new car.

In this sentence, the noun phrase is 'someone's new car.' It tells us which car we're talking about.


Just like any other noun, a noun phrase can function as the subject of a sentence. Here's an example of a noun phrase that functions as the sentence's subject:

  • Playing in the rain is one of my nephew's favorite activities.

The phrase 'playing in the rain' serves as the subject of this sentence.

Direct Objects

A noun phrase can also function as a direct object. A direct object receives the action of the verb and usually follows the verb. In the sentence below, the noun phrase functions as the sentence's direct object:

  • The tornado destroyed the stately old home surrounded by live oaks.

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