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Concourse 2

Modification

nails

Consider this:
    The old
house with a thatched roof

It's clear that the word house is being modified by the bits in black and orange.  It's also pretty easy to distinguish between pre- (the old) and post- (with a thatched roof) modification.

It's also clear that we can use this noun phrase as the subject or object of the verb:
    The old house with a thatched roof stood here
    I like the old house with a thatched roof
How this is achieved in English is a key area in both producing coherent texts and understanding texts.  Here we are concerned with how simple nouns become complex nominalisations.  And it isn't always as easy as that.

In what follows, we are looking at how the Head of a phrase may be modified by a pre-Head and a post-Head.  For more, try the guide to phrase structure.


premodify

Pre-modification

See if you can figure out what sorts of words are being used to pre-modify a noun in this expression:
The fourteen stupid school boys

Click when you have decided.

postmodify

Post-modification

Post-modification adds more detail again to the thing we are discussing.  Unlike pre-modification, post-modification tends to be much more complicated (sometimes impenetrably so with certain writers).  Here's an example.  Can you identify and classify the post-modification items?

That bicycle which you bought from the man you met in the pub in the High Street.

Click here when you have an answer.


Try the short test on all this.



Related guides
noun post-modification a guide to the ways nouns can be modified by what follows them 
noun pre-modification a guide to the ways nouns can be modified by what precedes them
adverb modifiers a guide to intensifiers including emphasisers, amplifiers, downtoners and approximators
adverbials a guide explaining adjuncts, disjuncts and conjuncts
phrase structure a guide to how phrases are constructed
adjectives the guide to follow if terms such as epithet and classifier are mysterious
prepositional phrases a guide dedicated to a major way of modifying verb and noun phrases
relative pronoun clauses a guide to a common way to modify
a lesson a link to a lesson for higher-level learners in this area (new tab or window)
syntax index for links to other related areas