"Before the Saturday kidnappings, professional associations and businesses in Port-au-Prince had called for an indefinite strike."
How many noun groups are in the bold clause? and what is the headword?
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Many approaches to syntax would view the finite auxiliary verb had as the head word of the entire sentence. The part in bold arguably contains four nominal groups (the Saturday kidnappings, professional associations, businesses in Port-au-Prince, and Port-au-Prince). The first part in bold is an adjunct prepositional phrase, i.e. before the Saturday kidnappings, and the second part in bold (after the comma) is the subject of the sentence, i.e. professional associations and businesses in Port-au-Prince. There are five nominal groups present (i.e. NPs or DPs depending on your theoretical assumptions) in the entire sentence. The head word of the prepositional phrase is the preposition before. The subject nominal group consists of two conjoined smaller nominal groups, i.e. professional associations and businesses in Port-au-Prince. The heads of these two nominal groups are associations and businesses, respectively, on an NP analysis.