Grammar in EAP

Premodification

Structure of nominal groups

A typical nominal group is structured in the following way:

determiner

premodifier

head

postmodifier

a

complicated

solution

to the problem

 

Nouns (which themselves can be nominalisations) can be premodified or postmodified (qualified):

premodifier + noun

adjective - the constitutional aspects

ed-participle - balanced budget, from the confused events of 19-24 August, the emitted light

ing-participle - growing problem, one striking feature of the years 1929-31, existing structures

noun - market forces, cabinet appointments

A more complex description (Halliday, 1985, pp. 159-175) is:

Premodifier

Head

Deictic

Numerative

Epithet

Classifier

Thing

these

three

   

methods

these

three

rather different

 

environments

these

two

old

volume

controls

the

two

 

domestic

products

the

 

complete

 

reorganisation

the

   

keyboard

designs

the

     

resistance

 

Epithets can include - in order: 

attitudinal adjectives - beautiful, ugly, marvellous
size - tall, long
age - young, old
shape - square, circular
colour - black, blue, green

Classifiers can include - in order:

origin - Persian, German
substance - leather, steel
purpose - medical, gardening

Can you find an academic equivalent of "a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife" (Forsyth, 2013, p. 39).

Deictics can also be possessive nouns (e.g. his, my, IBM's) or quantifiers (e.g. some, each, every, both, all).

Examples

The exception is David Marquand's splendid biography of Ramsay MacDonald.

Meanwhile, in 1942 another committee was working on Britain's postwar civil aviation policy.

Exercises

Exercise: Grammar: Nominal Group  - Order of Modifiers