Noun phrases can be simple, built around a single Noun, or complex, involving more than one noun. See also Infinitive Phrases and Prepositional Phrases.
Using the noun enfant (child), some of the most
common possibilities are:
You may have noticed that enfant can be either masculine or feminine, depending on the child referred to. This happens sometimes with nouns referring to people
but usually there are two forms
Complex Noun Phrases contain two or more nouns. In English, we have
three ways of joining nouns:
We commonly expand a noun phrase by simply adding one or more nouns to the first one.
This is normally impossible in French.
We can also use an apostrophe s to indicate possession:
This is impossible in French.
Or we can use prepositions to join nouns together:
French uses the third of these methods to join nouns, the use of a preposition. For George's hat the only possibility is le chapeau de Georges.
Simply putting two nouns together to make a compound expression is
possible in some cases (un camion citerne = a tanker
truck; la société Radio-Canada = the
Canadian Broadcasting Company), but using prepositions is far and
away the most common way to join nouns, and by far the most common preposition
The use of articles and other determiners in this linking process is very complicated. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about it.
Notice that the order of words is often the opposite to the order in English:
In technical and journalistic texts, long sequences of nouns joined by prepositions are common. This is considered bad style by many experts, but it still goes on: