Type 1) Adjectives / past participles modifying nouns
X Rel. BE adj. / pp - adj. / pp X
woman who / that is Italian - Italian woman
car which / that was old - old car
disc which / that is compact - compact disc
city which / that is crowded - crowded city
flowers which / that are beautiful - beautiful flowers
Type 2) Nouns modifying other nouns:
a) General (“Noun string”)
X prep. art. Y - Y X
officer of the police - police officer
player of / for Ø CDs - CD player
licence for Ø driving - driving licence (BrE)
eater of Ø mice - mouse / mice eater
distillation of Ø whisky - whisky distillation
handle of the door - door handle
cream for Ø faces - face cream
i) belonging / ownership
X belonging to Y Y’s / Ys’ X
bar belonging to Sam - Sam’s bar
brother belonging to James - James’s / James' brother
house belonging to the Smiths - the Smiths’ house
helicopter belonging to the President - the President’s helicopter
head belonging to the patient - the patient ‘s head
finest belonging to New York - New York’s finest
ii) intended for a specific group of people
X for Y Y’s / Ys’ X
jacket for a woman / women - a woman’s jacket
license for a driver / drivers - a driver’s license (USE)
helmet for a pilot / pilots - pilot's helmet
discount for a student / students - a student’s discount
chair for a dentist / dentists - a dentist’s chair
iii) time expressions in general
X of Y Y’s / Ys’ X
paper of yesterday - yesterday’s paper
time of five minutes - five minutes’ time
model of last year - last year’s model
lecture of Tuesday - Tuesday’s lecture
train of tomorrow night - tomorrow night’s train
What would one call:
1) a guard of a prison which is security which is high?
a high security prison guard
2) the production of hydrogen which is liquid?
liquid hydrogen production
3) a grant for students who are from overseas?
an overseas student’s grant
4) the garage of (belonging to) the man who lives opposite?
the man who lives opposite’s garage
5) a pump of fluid which is thermovector?
a thermovector fluid pump
6) the book by an actress who is famous?
a famous actress’s book
7) a painter of landscapes who is from Holland?
a Dutch landscape painter
8) a device for the saving of energy?
an energy saving device
9) a parcel made of paper which is brown?
a brown paper parcel
Further points for consideration:
(NB: *"the handle's door" = the form is impossible; ?"the door's handle" = the form is not acceptable to all speakers or can only be used in very specific contexts)
1) What is the difference between “the English team” and “the England team”?
“The English team” = e.g. Manchester United, Aston Villa etc:
“The England Team” = the team of England, i.e. the national side.
2) Why does one normally say “the Queen of England” and not *“the England queen”, “England’s queen” or “the English queen”?
Formal titles are not normally abbreviated , like proper names in formal contexts (cf. Elizabeth / Liz)
2) Although structures like "X of Y" can normally be shortened to "YX" (see Type 2, a), expressions like "a lot of problems" or "a litre of wine" do not have the equivalents *"a problem lot" or *"a wine litre". Why do you think this is so?
“A lot of” and “a litre of” etc. function as quantifiers (like “many” / “much”). As such, they constitute single indivisible expressions and, indeed, typically the verb agrees with the postmodifying noun (that which is quantified) not the grammatical head, the quantifier (e.g. “lot”; “litre”): “A lot of people drink” and not *“A lot of people drinks” (cf: in Italian: “La maggiore parte della gente beve”).
4) In the examples below, say why the particular noun phrase structure has been used
i) They have put the new Adele album on the shelves next to the cash register.
Adele is not the owner of the album (i.e. the piece of plastic for sale). ‘Adele’ designates the kind of album.
ii) I borrowed Adele’s album but I’ve lost it and will have to buy her a new one.
Adele is the owner of the album.
iii) Adele’s new album marks her return after a long absence.
Adele is the owner of the album, not as an artefact (i.e. a piece of plastic), but as a work of art.
5) Regarding genitives used for something intended for a specific group of people (see Type 2, b, ii), occasionally one finds structures like those given in the examples below, which would seem to adhere to the structure of Type 2, a. Why do you think such structures are used in the specific contexts in question?
i) Centrum Trains Block Train Driver Pay Rise. "We Will Take Action" Unions Warn.
In the telegraphic styles of newspaper headlines, shorter forms are preferred wherever possible. A noun string (Type 2 a) is shorter than a genitive (Type 2b), even if there is a slight change in meaning.
ii) Starting university this autumn? Apply for one of our student loans. Just call in to your local branch and ask for a leaflet.
Type ii genitives are being replaced by noun strings (2a) in more impersonal, neutral discourse.
iii) The passenger compartment has been redesigned to comply with new regulations on aircraft safety.
Type ii genitives are being replaced by noun strings (2a) in the more impersonal, neutral discourse of technology
6) While, in conversation, it is possible to say something like “the man who lives opposite’s garage”, such structures are less acceptable in written discourse. Why do you think this is so? Which of the below do you think would be acceptable in either spoken (s) or written (w) discourse, or both?
√ √ i) Einstein’s theory
√ √ ii) This particular physicist’s theory.
√ √ iii) This particular original-thinking physicist’s theory.
√ X iv) This particular original-thinking and widely respected physicist’s theory.
? X v) This particular physicist, who, in the past, has admitted he has been wrong’s theory.
Basically, the longer (and more complex) the noun phrase to which the genitive 's' is attached, the less acceptable it is in written discourse, and to a lesser degree in spoken discourse. This because, if the head (‘theory’ in the cases above) is postponed for too long the phrase is successively more difficult for the addressee to process and there is a risk of incoherence. Also the stylistic rule of end-weighting applies (longer more complex elements – in this case the modification ̶ are best placed at the end of the clause: “The theory of this particular physicist, who, in the past, has admitted he has been wrong.” )
7) Explain the ambiguity of expressions like “English teacher”, “government inspector”, “Police Complaints Authority” or “dentist’s chair”.
“Teacher who is English” vs. “teacher of English” (the subject); “Inspector of governments” (someone who inspects governments) vs. “Inspector from the government” (a government official); who sits in the chair? Is it for the dentist, or the patient (i.e. respectively, is it for his use (as in 2b ii) or does it belong to him or her (as in 2b i) ?)
8) Sometimes, the same noun phrase can be said to derive from different underlying structures. For example, New York City could be said to come either from "City of New York" or "City which is New York", the latter structure being equative (i.e. "X = Y") rather than attributive (i.e. "X has the quality of being Y"). Indeed, between Type 1 and Type 2,a there would seem to be some overlap given that phrases like "blue eyes" can be expressed as "eyes which are blue" or "eyes of blue". How would you explain this fact, given that it is not possible to say *"eyes of tired" or *"eyes of Irish"?
“Blue” can be both a noun and an adjective; “tired” and “Irish” can only be adjectives (and can thus not be the object of a preposition)
9) An animal that eats mice can be either a “mouse eater” or a “mice eater” (see Type 2,a), but an animal that eats rats can only be called a “rat eater” not a *“rats eater”. Similarly a book for children is generally known as a “Children’s book” or a “Child’s book” (see Type 2, b, ii), although the former term is more usual. What is different about the words ‘mouse’ and ‘child’?
Irregular plurals like ‘mice’ and ‘children’ can be used to modify nouns. It would seem that there is a rule that removes the plural ‘s’ from regular plurals like ‘rats’ when it is used as a premodifier. Such a rule has no effect on irregular plurals.
10) Regarding the general point of plural modifiers, although *“rats eater” is impossible, one still finds noun phrases like “sports centre”, “Arts Council”, “Police Complaints Authority” (see Type 2, a), or “visitors’ waiting area” (see Type 2, b, ii). What factors may make the plural admissible in these cases?
A plural noun can be used as premodifier in noun string (2a) when there is a contrast two senses of a word, one countable, the other uncountable (e.g. ‘sport’ meaning physical activity for leisure and “a sport” such as football). In such a case the plural form is used to show that the countable sense is meant (e.g. a centre for specific sports such as tennis, football etc. and not a centre for physical activity for leisure in general), In other cases (e.g. complaints and visitors’), the plural is used to emphasise the plurality, and variety of the modifier (i.e. an authority for all kinds of compliant against the police; a waiting area for all visitors)
11) Examine any potential differences in meaning between the four structures below:
i) The greenhouse is at the bottom of the garden.
Compound noun meaning “serra” in Italian, in this extreme case, a meaning not directly deducible from the separate component words ‘green’ and ‘house’ (cf. ‘blackboard’, ‘weekend’, ‘doorbell’)
ii) The green house is at the bottom of the road.
An abbreviated noun phrase of type 1 = “the house which is green”.
iii) The house which is green is at the bottom of the road.
A full, extended, noun phrase of type 1, in effect a defining (or restrictive) relative clause.
iv) The house, which is green, is number 43.
In this case, there is a non-defining (non-restrictive) relative clause which cannot be abbreviated as with type 1 noun phrases. The information contained therein, namely that the house is green is presented as additional or parenthetical (cf. “the house (which is green) is number 43”) and not necessary for designation of the referent.
12) Despite the rules outlined in the table above, occasionally there are noun phrases such as “court-martial” (plural, both “courts-martial” and ?“court-martials”), “Theatre Royal”, “Mission Impossible”, "Police Scotland" and "County Durham". Analyse the probable structures of such noun phrases and say why you think they might be used.
“Court martial”, and possibly “Theatre Royal” and “County Durham” derive form French and retain the original syntax even if the spelling has been anglicised to a degree. Phrases like “Mission Impossible” or "Police Scotland" (or “Love Supreme”, “Team GB”, “Post Australia”), which are becoming more common, would seem to be used because the marked word order adds emphasis and gives the expression a more grandiose, important, sound.
Say whether the noun phrases which are underlined are correct. If they are, put a tick (P) in the box. In either case, reformulate the noun phrases, if possible.
1) √ EU crisis 11) √ A police spokesperson
2) √ European Ministers of Agriculture 12) X A group of youths
European Agriculture Ministers (informal)
3) X Emergency meeting 13) √ Factory area
4) X carrot crisis 14) √ the 21-year old Nigerian striker
5) √ The Finnish minister 15) X the Austrian league
6) √ carrot importation 16) √ an £8-million transfer fee
7) √ non-EU countries 17) √ team manager
8) √ Factory Fire 18) √ star player
9) √ the fire of last night 19) X United’s future
(no change necessary)
10) √ factory warehouse 20) √ international standard players