Noun phrase ‘__ed’ucation

😦 Consequently, people lived in remote areas sometimes have limited access to learning resources.

Here the student wants to post-modify the noun ‘people’ using a verb – ‘live’. When post-modifying nouns using verbs, one option is to use a non-finite verb. Don’t worry you don’t need to google ‘non-finite’ – that’s just a fancy name for the following little group of verb forms:

  • __ing (sometimes called present participle)
  • __ed (sometimes called past participle)
  • to + v1

If you’re using __ed to extend or ‘post-modify’ a noun, then you’re really using a kind of shortened relative clause:

😦 “..people who are lived in remote areas..”

In this case you end up with a passive construction (to be + V3), which obviously doesn’t make sense here because a thing or a person cannot ‘be lived’.

‘Live’ is an intransitive verb – it doesn’t take an object. But no worries, we can easily re-write the noun phrase with a relative clause and a transitive verb so that it makes sense:

🙂 “..people who are situated in remote areas..”

Native speakers will nearly always shorten this relative clause to leave the non-finite verb only:

🙂 “..people situated in remote areas..”

Finally, the noun phrase can now be incorporated into the sentence like this:

🙂 Consequently, people situated in remote areas sometimes have limited access to learning resources.

Alternatively we could stick with ‘live’ but use __ing:

🙂 Consequently, people living in remote areas sometimes have limited access to learning resources.

In this case we are shortening another relative clause but we don’t have to consider whether or not the verb is transitive:

🙂 “..people who are living in remote areas..”

When post-modifying nouns, native speakers generally use the shortened version without the relative pronoun.


To end this post, it’s worth putting non-finite verbs in context with other common methods for post-modifying nouns:

preposition phrases relative clauses __ing, __ed, to+V1 time expressions

Sometimes these are interchangeable:

the number of plastic bags used by consumers in 2015 in America
the number of plastic bags used in America by consumers in 2015

And I’ll throw in a relative clause just to show off:

the number of plastic bags used by consumers in 2015 in America which are not made of biodegradable material

Notice that the __ed phrase also has a preposition phrase embedded into it:

used by consumers
used in America

And notice that time expressions are often also preposition phrases:

in 2015
on Tuesday
after I finished work
etc.

I hope all of that helps and look forward to hearing your feedback!

@eapguru

 

 

Happy people – ‘people’ pre-modified using ‘happy’
People everywhere – ‘people post-modified with ‘everywhere’
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