Self-Improvement Books: A Genre Analysis.

Thank you to Dr Jeremy Koay from University of Victoria, Wellington, who.has shared his research on The Genre of Self-Improvement Books.  The knowledge sharing session which was held on 8 March at Seminar Room 1 went well and it was very interesting and enlightening.



Be Just

‘O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as just witnesses; and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety; and fear Allah. Verily Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do’ (Al-Maidah 5:8. Pg 144).

Noun Phrases

A noun phrase or nominal phrase (abbreviated NP) is a phrase which has a noun (or indefinite pronoun) as its head word, or which performs the same grammatical function as such a phrase. Noun phrases are very common cross-linguistically, and they may be the most frequently occurring phrase type.

What is a noun phrase?

A noun phrase is a phrase which includes:

  1. a noun (also called head)
  2. and optionally modifiers.


  • Love is a beautiful feeling. (Love is a noun phrase without modifiers. However, a beautiful feeling is a noun phrase that includes a noun, feeling, and the determiner a and the adjective beautiful)
  • My house is over there. (My house is a noun phrase which consists of the noun house and a modifier – the possessive adjective my)

Possible noun modifiers

A noun phrase may optionally contain noun modifiers. If these modifiers are placed before the noun they are called pre-modifiers. However, if they are placed after the noun, they are called post-modifiers. Possible noun modifiers include the following:

1. Determiners:

In English, determiners are usually placed before the noun;

2. adjectives (the delicious food)

3. complements, in the form of a prepositional phrase (such as: the student of physics), or a That-clause (the idea  that the world is a small village )

Functions of a noun phrase

Noun phrases can function as subjects, objects:

  1. That sophisticated woman is beautiful. (That sophisticated woman is a noun phrase that functions as a subject.)
  2. I like the book that you bought. (the book that you bought is a noun phrase that functions as an object.)

What Are Noun Phrases? (with Examples)

A noun phrase is a phrase that plays the role of a noun. The head word in a noun phrase will be a noun or a pronoun. In the examples below, the whole noun phrase is shaded and the head word is in bold.

  • I like singing in the bath.
  • I know the back streets.
  • I’ve met the last remaining chief.

Compare the three examples above to these:

  • I like it.
  • I know them.
  • I’ve met him.

In these three examples, the words in bold are all pronouns. The ability to replace the noun phrases in the first three examples with a pronoun proves that the shaded texts are functioning as nouns, making them noun phrases.

Like any noun, a noun phrase can be a subject, an object, or a complement.

Examples of Noun Phrases

Noun phrases are extremely common. A noun with any sort of modifier (including just a number or an article) is a noun phrase. Here are some examples of noun phrases:

      • The best defense against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off. (Anon)

(In this example, there is a noun phrase within a noun phrase. The noun phrase

the atom bomb

      is the

object of the prepositionagainst

      . The

prepositional phraseagainst the atom bomb




      • I don’t have a bank account, because I don’t know my mother’s maiden name. (Paula Poundstone)

(In this example, both noun phrases are

direct objects


      • The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it. (Dudley Moore, 1935-2002)

(In this example, the first noun phrase is the subject, and the second is a

subject complement.)

  • Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former. (Albert Einstein, 1879-1955)