Noun Clusters


Constructing Noun Clusters

Noun clusters, sometimes called "appositives," are made by crossing over the second noun in a BSP3 and then supplying a new main clause.

Jim is a fireman in Chicago. (A BSP3 with a prepositonal phrase attached to the second noun)
A fireman in Chicago,
A fireman in Chicago, Jim knows the town well.

Sometimes you need to add a prepositional phrase or some other kind of bound modifier to the second noun in the BSP3 to give it more meaning. For example, the sentence, "Canaries are birds," is a BSP3 that transforms into a noun cluster consisting of one word, as in "Birds, canaries have feathers"--not much of a sentence! In this case, it would be better to start with "Canaries are small, yellow birds," a sentence which would produce, "Small yellow birds, canaries are usually available in pet stores."

You can place the noun cluster after the word it modifies:

Jim, a fireman from Chicago, knows the town well.
Canaries, small yellow birds, are usually available in pet stores

Recognizing Noun Clusters

Noun clusters usually begin with "a," "an," or "the" followed by a noun and its cluster of modifying words. They appear, usually, just before or just after a noun, which they are renaming. They are closely related to relative clauses, but they do not have relative pronouns like "who" or "which" at the beginning, and they do not have verbs. Here are a few more examples:

Two Model Paragraphs

It was one of those days, a hot, steamy day in August, that seemed like it would never end. Uncle Joe and Aunt Jane, traditional visitors in the heat of summer, sat on the front porch, rocking lazily, their collars open at the neck. Out at the end of the long, dusty drive way, a truck, a 1954, olive green, Ford pickup, turned toward them, kicking up a plume of white as it approached.

Try imitating the paragraph above using your own subject matter, like this:

It was one of those jobs, a dirty, thankless task, that made you want to hold your breath. The foremen, Jake and Sam, stood to one side, smirking at each other, their eyes sparkling with delight. There at the bottom of the pile of trash was the object he was looking for, a seemingly unimportant piece of paper, smeared with bacon grease and crumpled into a ball.

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