More Phrase Types
Just as a noun functions as the Head of a noun phrase, a verb functions as the Head of a verb phrase, and an adjective functions as the Head of an adjective phrase, and so on. We recognise five phrase types in all:
For convenience, we will use the following abbreviations for the phrase types:
Using these abbreviations, we can now label phrases as well as bracket them. We do this by putting the appropriate label inside the opening bracket:
Now we will say a little more about each of the five phrase types.
Noun Phrase (NP)
As we've seen, a noun phrase has a noun as its Head. Determiners and adjective phrases usually constitute the pre-Head string:
In theory at least, the post-Head string in an NP can be indefinitely long:
Fortunately, they are rarely as long as this in real use.
The Head of an NP does not have to be a common or a proper noun. Recall that pronouns are a subclass of nouns. This means that pronouns, too, can function as the Head of an NP:
If the Head is a pronoun, the NP will generally consist of the Head only. This is because pronouns do not take determiners or adjectives, so there will be no pre-Head string. However, with some pronouns, there may be a post-Head string:
Similarly, numerals, as a subclass of nouns, can be the Head of an NP:
Verb Phrase (VP)
In a VERB PHRASE (VP), the Head is always a verb. The pre-Head string, if any, will be a `negative' word such as not  or never , or an adverb phrase :
Many verb Heads must be followed by a post-Head string:
Verbs which require a post-Head string are called TRANSITIVE verbs. The post-Head string, in these examples, is called the DIRECT OBJECT.
In contrast, some verbs are never followed by a direct object:
These are known as INTRANSITIVE VERBS.
However, most verbs in English can be both transitive and intransitive, so it is perhaps more accurate to refer to transitive and intransitive uses of a verb. The following examples show the two uses of the same verb:
We will return to the structure of verb phrases in a later section.
copyright The Survey of English Usage 1996-1998
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