The following phrase tree from phrase on Wikipedia has "house at the end on the street" as a noun phrase on the constituency side:

phrase tree

Why wouldn't "The house" be a noun phrase in the same way as "the street" is? The only type of word that can go before "house" is a determiner such as "a", "the", "my", "that", etc., so I don't understand this structure.

Why is it "NP[D[the] NP[house at the end of the street]]" and not "NP[NP[the house] PP[at the end of the street]]"?

Is it a mistake? If it's correct, would someone explain it?


I've found another diagram that makes more sense to me:

Two sentences with their phrase structure trees

This shows "NP[the dress on the rack]" as "NP[NP[the dress] PP[on the rack]]", not "NP[D[the] NP[dress on the rack]]".

Are both analyses correct in different circumstances? Is only one of them correct? Why?

  • @BillJ They're not my trees. They're illustrations on Wikipedia. They didn't make sense to me, but I'm only just learning about phrase trees, so I couldn't tell if I was missing something or not. – CJ Dennis Jul 9 '18 at 6:54
  • I see what you're asking. "The house" is only part of the NP. In full, the NP is "the house at the end of the street", where "house" is head, "the" is determiner, and the PP "at the end of the street" is modifier. Strictly speaking, the tree should show an intermediate level between the NP and the noun, called the nominal, so the first division is between the determiner and the rest, with "house at the end of the street forming a nominal. – BillJ Jul 9 '18 at 7:06
  • @BillJ I was thinking that the NP "The house at the end of the street" should have a subordinate NP "The house" with the rest being a PP "at the end of the street". – CJ Dennis Jul 9 '18 at 7:09
  • No, that's not how it's analysed. The tree is weak in that it doesn't label (or even include) all the constituents. "House" is head of the whole NP "the house at the end of the street", in which the PP "at the end of the street" is a dependent where the head "at" has its own dependent, the NP "the end of the street". This in turn has "end" as head and the PP "of the street" as a dependent, where "of" is head and the NP "the street" is a dependent. The lack of clarity is due to the nature of such trees. – BillJ Jul 9 '18 at 7:28
  • @BillJ The heads are fairly clearly labelled in the dependency tree, however. – CJ Dennis Jul 9 '18 at 7:34

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