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Noun Phrases

Updated: 6-28-2011 7:44 AM

A phrase consists of a group of words that are tied together in some way and that function as a unit in the structure of a sentence. A noun phrase usually consists of a noun that may or may not be accompanied by other words that modify it; this noun is commonly referred to as the head noun. In some contexts, the head noun may be missing and the noun phrase may only consist of one or more of the modifying words. In some case, the entire noun phrase may be represented by a personal pronoun.

A noun phrase may contain another noun phrase serving as a possessor, or it may contain a subordinate clause functioning as a relative clause. Nouns within noun phrases may be linked by conjunctions.

A noun phrase is not a sentence in itself, but is often used alone in conversation as a fragment or as an answer to a question. Within sentences, noun phrases most often function as the subject or object of a verb. (Some verbs can have two objects. ) The different parts of a noun phrase need not appear next to one another in a sentence.

Noun in Noun Phrase

A noun used alone can act as a noun phrase.

Naadimawshin bakwezhigan.  =  Get me the bread.

Aazha na gigii-waabamaa mashkikiiwinini?  =  Did you see the doctor yet?

Nominal Pronoun in Noun Phrase
A nominal pronoun can act as a noun phrase.

Awenesh gaa-bi-izhaad noongom? =  Who came today?

Giishpin andawendaman gegoon, wiindamawishinaam.  =  If you want anything, just tell us.

Demonstrative Pronoun With Noun in Noun Phrase
A demonstrative pronoun may modify a head noun, agreeing with it in number, gender, and obviation. The demonstrative may appear with the head noun or in place of it.

Aakozi a'aw ikwezens.  =  That girl is sick.

Aandi gaa-ondinaman iwe?  =  Where did you get that?

Quantifier or Other Particle in Noun Phrase
A quantifier or some other particle can act as a noun phrase or it can form part of a noun phrase.

Kina ina go naa gegoo miijim gii-ate.          

There were all kinds of food there.

Ninga-miinaa nishiimenh bangii.  =  I’m going to give my younger brother a little bit.

Personal Pronoun in Noun Phrase
A personal pronoun used to provide emphasis can act as a noun phrase. It is often used with an emphatic particle or a conjunction.

Gidayekoz na gegiin?                                     And you, are you tired, too?

Geniin bangii biidamawishin.                        Bring me a little, too.

Noun Phrase As Possessor
Any type of noun phrase may appear as the possessor of a noun; the affixes on the possessed noun agree in person, number, and obviation with the noun or pronoun designating the possessor.

Abinoojiinh omakizin ingii-mikaan.  =  I found the baby’s shoe.

Aandi gimisenh odaanakwaan? =  Where’s your sister’s hat?

Noun Phrases With Conjunctions
Noun phrases may be connected by conjunctions.

Wii-gitigewag nisayenh owiiwan idash.  =  My older brother and his wife are going to plant a garden.

Noun Phrases in Lists
Noun phrases can be connected without the use of conjunctions.

Ningitigaadaanan noojigo bigo gegoonan – opiniin, okaadaakwag, oginiig, gichi-aniibiishan.  =  I’m planting all sorts of things – potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage.

Verbless Sentences

Equational Sentences

Equational sentences are sentences without verbs in which a noun phrase combines with another noun phrase to make a statement or ask a question concerning the identity of a person or thing.

Equational Sentences with Demonstrative Pronoun is

One of the noun phrases in an equational sentence is usually a demonstrative pronoun; the other noun phrase is usually a noun, but may contain a possessed noun with its possessor, as in the second example below.

Akikoog ingiw.   =  Those are pails.

Mary iniwan odoodaabaaniman.  =  That’s Mary’s car.

Negative Equational Sentence

In Ojibwe, an equational sentence may contain a negative particle.

Gaawiin niin o’ow nimookomaan.  =   That’s not my table knife.

Equational Yes/No Question

To ask a yes/no question, the question particle ina/na is inserted in an equational statement.

Gitigaanan ina iniw?  =  Are those plants?

Equational Content Question

An interrogative pronoun can combine with a noun phrase to form a question intended to ascertain identity or possession.

Awenen a’aw ikwe?  =  Who’s that woman?

Equational Sentence with Dubitative Pronoun

In Ojibwe, a dubitative pronoun and a noun phrase can combine to form a verbless sentence expressing doubt or uncertainty about the identity of a person or thing.

Awegwen a’aw inini.  =  I wonder who that man is.

Verbless Sentences with Adverbs or Other Particles

Some adverbs and other particles, used alone in combination with other adverbs, particles or noun phrases, may form sentences without verbs.

Adverb or Other Particle
In conversation, one or several adverbs or other particles standing alone may function as a sentence.

Aaniin apii?  =  When?

Adverb or Other Particle with Question Particle
A question particle can be added to an adverb or another particle to form a verbless yes/no question.

Aazha na?  =  Ready?

Adverb or Other Particle with Noun Phrase
Some adverbs and other particles can combine with a noun phrase to form a verbless sentence.

Nashke awe!  =  Look at that!

Interrogative Adverb with Noun Phrase
An interrogative adverb can combine with a noun phrase to form a verbless locative question.

Aaniindi animosh?  =  Where’s the dog?

Dubitative Adverb with Noun Phrase
In Ojibwe, a dubitative adverb can occur with a noun phrase to form a verbless sentence expressing doubt or uncertainty about the location of a person or thing.

Dibi apane nindaanis.  =  I wonder where my daughter has gone.

Verbless Sentences with Focus Word
In Ojibwe, a particle called a predicator is used to focus on some part of a sentence.

Focus Word with Noun Phrase
A focus word may occur with a noun phrase.

Mii wa’aw.  =  It’s him; that’s the one.

Focus Word with Noun Phrase and Question Particle
A question particle can be used with a focus word and a noun phrase to form a verbless question asking for confirmation of an object’s or a person’s identity.

Mii na o’ow gibiizikawaagan?  =  Is this your coat?

Focus Word with Adverb
A focus word can occur with an adverb to form a verbless statement or yes/no question about time, place or manner.

Mii imaa. =  Right there.