Phrase Builders

7-9 Grades

The purpose of this activity is to allow your children to have fun while making well constructed noun phrases.

Definition of noun phrase: A noun phrase consists of a noun or a pronoun and any modifiers that it may have.

We are going to concentrate on making noun phrases by using the following formulas:

Determiner | Noun
Determiner | Adjective | Noun
Determiner | Adjective | Adjective | Noun

Question- Can you build a grammatically correct noun phrase that contains two determiners?
Determiner | Determiner | Adjective | Noun

References at DY

Adjectives: Descriptive Adjective 
Determiners: Limiting Adjective see lists of the different kinds of determiners


Note: I have reread this and I feel like my explanation of this activity is too hard to understand so I have decided to make some cards for you. 

pdfCards PDF | docCards DOC
The second page has some blank cards. Your child can think of adjectives and modifying nouns and write them on the cards. The cards that have a small 1 in the bottom corner indicate that the determiner on the card is usually the only determiner that can be used in the noun phrase. They are not usually combined with other determiners but they can be combined with adjectives and modifying nouns.

Either cut index cards in half, then in half again or print some cards from the Game Accessories page.

Hand the children the cards and tell them to write a noun on several of the cards and lay them in a stack. Tell them to write some adjectives on several of the cards and place them in a stack. Finally tell them to write determiners on some of the cards and place them in a stack. Visit the Limiting Adjective to see lists of the different kinds of determiners.

There is something that I should mention, some of the determiners can be used only once in the noun phrase. The articles, the, a, and an can be used only once... You can't say A an apple.  However, an additional article can be inside of a prepositional phrase. It may be easy for you and your children to spot the determiners that can be used only once.

So it would be a good idea to have a separate determiner stack of those that can be used in combination with other determiners. [the restrictors and the limiters].

To Play: Write the formulas on a white board. Have your children construct noun phrases by using their cards. It is more fun if they choose a noun card to fill the noun slot without looking at the card and the same with the other cards. They can read their noun phrase. Have them scramble the cards in their noun phrase to demonstrate how important the structure is.


If you are studying or have studied prepositional phrases, then you can let the children add prepositional phrases to the end or the beginning of their noun phrases.

example: During the summer my only brother 
Almost all of my paper

Sometimes nouns act as adjectives too. If you want to teach this to your children you can at this time. If there is a noun modifying a noun , then it is acting as an adjective [sometimes called a modifying noun].


  1. church building
  2. stone statue
  3. brick house
  4. dinner jacket
  5. wool sweater

The modifying nouns are in red.

If you added modifying nouns to the activity above, insert the modifying noun directly in front of the noun...

Determiner | Modifying Noun | Noun
Determiner | Adjective | Modifying Noun | Noun

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May 13, 2021

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