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Given the following sentence

Mark is not suited to countries where cheese is available.

would it be correct to say that there are two separate noun phrases here?

[Mark is not suited] and [countries where cheese is available]

I am bit confused about the verb 'is', specifically under what conditions it forms part of a noun phrase.

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"Mark is not suited" is not a noun phrase in the example sentence:

Mark is not suited to countries where cheese is available.

Indeed "is not suited" acts as the main verb of this sentence, so the subject is simply "Mark".

A good test for a noun phrase is "Can it be replaced by a single pronoun, and leave a grammatically valid sentence?" Replacing "Mark is not suited" in the example would leave:

He to countries where cheese is available.

That is not a valid sentence, for one thing it does not contain a verb. Replacing jsut "Mark" leaves:

He is not suited to countries where cheese is available.

That is a valid sentence.

Now at the other end "countries where cheese is available" is a noun phrase. "where cheese is available" is a restrictive relative clause indicating which countries are meant. such clauses can form part of a noun phrase. Again the replacement test leaves:

Mark is not suited to them.

which is a valid sentence.

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  • does this test always hold ? For example, "Joe is nice and gives us useful advice such as "you only live once"'. In this case, 'Joe is nice' cannot be replace by a pronoun (right?) neither does 'useful advice such as "you only live once"'' – John Oct 1 '19 at 14:43
  • "Joe is nice" is not a noun phrase here. I can't think of a case where "X is Y" would be. "useful advice..." is, and can be replaced. For example: "Joe is nice and gives us it". "it" can replace the entire noun phrase. I am not sure that the replacement rule handles every case, but I haven't found a case where it does not work to show what is or is not a noun phrase. – David Siegel Oct 1 '19 at 14:57
  • "The counselor at the school is the woman who gave me that advice."--->"She is she.", "She is her.", "That is her."? – Lorel C. Oct 1 '19 at 16:17
  • @Lorel You can have "NP1 is NP2" as a sentence, yes. But I don't see that "X is Y" can itself be a NP. Perhaps i am overlooking something. In your example there seem to be two NPs, joined by "is". – David Siegel Oct 1 '19 at 16:38
  • I misunderstood, sorry. – Lorel C. Oct 1 '19 at 22:40
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In the example sentence

  • Mark is not suited to countries where cheese is available.

there are three noun phrases:

  1. Mark is the subject of the main clause; is not suited is the verb
  2. countries is the object of the preposition to
  3. cheese is the subject of the subordinate clause where cheese is available

The important thing is not the number of noun phrases but the fact that there are two clauses, each with a subject, and one subordinate to the other. The bracketing looks like this:

  • [ [Mark] is not suited [to [countries] ]
      [where [cheese] is available] ].

As can be seen, the only constituents in the sentence are the main clause with its prepositional phrase and the relative clause modifying the object of the preposition. Each clause has a subject and the preposition has an object; none of the other constituents are noun phrases, since the prepositional phrase modifies a verb and the relative clause modifies a noun.

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