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The Structure of English Noun Phrases


Admission requirements

An introductory course in (generative English) syntax and/or a course in (English) linguistics. If in doubt, consult the course tutor before registering. Suggested reading material to prepare for the course are: Haegeman & Gueron (1999) English Grammar. A generative Perspective. Wiley-Blackwell.; Carnie, A. (2007) Syntax. A Generative Introduction. Blackwell Publishing.


English has many types of noun phrases that differ in meaning and structure. This course will look at the various types of noun phrases found in English, and using the framework of generative syntactic theory, it will investigate their external distribution and internal composition. On the basis of a number of research articles, we will discuss various issues concerning the build-up of noun phrases, such as: the position and types of determiners that nouns can occur with; the structure of possessive constructions; different types of nominal modifiers; nominalizations and argument structure within noun phrases. We will also look at anaphoric noun phrases and noun phrases containing ellipsis. The focus of the course will be on English, but occasionally we will consider noun phrase structures from other languages was well, as part of the readings.

Course objectives

The students gain insights into basic syntactic argumentation.
The students are familiar with the descriptive and analytical methods used to describe and analyze noun phrases in English.
The students are able to use the acquired knowledge in their own written work.


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • time spent on attending seminars: 26 hours

  • time for studying the compulsory literature and preparing for the presentation: 132 hours

  • time to write a paper (including reading/research): 122 hours

Assessment method

Presentation: 25 %
Final essay: 75%

The final grade consists of weighted average of the above components

Resit: students who fail the course may resit the final essay.


This course will be supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

A number of recent articles/chapters (to be announced and made available).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in [English]) and Dutch

Students other than MA Linguistics need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.