• Overview of Punjabi Grammar

Nominal Phrase

In this section, we will discuss all the phrases built around words of various word classes like noun, pronoun, adjective, cardinal, ordinal, and postposition. These phrases may consist of a single word like noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, or postposition, or may be of varied lengths. Phrase structure for nominal phrases in Punjabi is recursive, meaning phrases may be components of other phrases. Therefore, first we will define the basic structure underlying most of the nominal phrases, under the title ‘Noun Phrase’. After defining this basic structure of nominal phrases, we will describe the various categories of nominal phrases (based on this structure).
Noun Phrase
A noun phrase usually consists of a headword that can be a noun or a pronoun, and a number of modifiers. A modifier is a word that gives a specific meaning to a particular word. In the phrase – ਨੀਲੀ ਕਾਰ nīlī kār ‘blue car’, the word ਨੀਲੀ nīlī ‘blue’ is acting as a modifier (to modify or highlight some of the properties) of the word ਕਾਰ kār ‘car’. Provided below is a list of the word classes, the words of which can act as modifiers in noun phrases. Most of these will apply if headword is of noun word class. For pronouns, though these modifiers can be used but that use will be very rare. Most of the modifiers for pronouns will follow the pronoun unlike the modifiers for noun, which precede the noun being modified. The modifiers can be:
  • Adjective: Any number of adjectives can be used, adjectives can be iterated for emphasis or they can form phrases with an adjective having various other modifiers.
  • Numeral: Numeral phrases consisting of cardinals, ordinals, adjectives (acting as modifiers for cardinals), and particles (like ਕੁ ku) act as modifiers.
  • Pronoun: Except first and second person personal pronouns, all the pronouns can act as modifiers for a noun, including genitive case forms of first and second person personal pronouns.
  • Verb Phrase: Phrases with DA, IA, DIAN, or IAN forms of verb can act as modifiers for a noun. Noun being modified is highlighted in the following examples:

    1. ਭੱਜੀ ਜਾਂਦੀ ਹੋਈ ਕੁਡ਼ੀ ਨੇ ਕਿਹਾ।
      bhajjī jāndī hōī kuṛī nē kihā.
      The running girl said.
    2. ਭੱਜਿਆਂ ਜਾਂਦਿਆਂ ਮੁੰਡਿਆਂ ਨੇ ਸਾਡੀ ਗੱਲ ਨਹੀਂ ਸੁਣਨੀ।
      bhajjiāṃ jāndiāṃ muṇḍiāṃ nē sāḍī gall nahīṃ suṇnī.
      The running boys will not hear us.

    Verb phrases with headword in N form (e.g. ਜਾਣ jāṇ, ਪੀਣ pīṇ) followed by ਦਾ (possessive or genitive case marker) postposition in its different forms, can act as a modifier, e.g. ਜਾਣ ਦੀ ਉਮੀਦ jāṇ dī umīd ‘desire of going’.
  • Noun phrases followed by ਦਾ postposition in its various inflectional forms, can act as an adjective phrase modifying another noun, e.g.

    1. ਮੁੰਡੇ ਦਾ ਪਿੰਨ
      muṇḍē dā pinn
      The boy's pen
  • Relative Clause: Clauses introduced by relative class of pronouns, like ਜੋ , ਜਿਹਡ਼ਾ jihṛā, ਜਿਸ jis, and their inflectional forms, may act as a modifier for a noun, e.g.

    1. ਉਹ ਬੱਚਾ ਜਿਹਡ਼ਾ ਹੱਸ ਰਿਹਾ ਸੀ।
      uh baccā jihṛā hass rihā sī.
      The kid that was laughing.
  • Honorific particles, like ਜੀ , ਸਾਹਿਬ sāhib, can also follow a noun to modify it. For the purpose of concordance, a noun followed by an honorific particle will be considered as masculine plural irrespective of its gender and number, if that noun is acting as a subject of a sentence or a clause. Modifiers of such noun will also be in masculine plural form. E.g.

    1. ਮੇਰੇ ਪਿਤਾ ਜੀ ਕਹਿ ਰਹੇ ਸਨ।
      mērē pitā jī kahi rahē san.
      My father was saying.
Modifiers of a noun, in a noun phrase, usually follow the order as, pronoun, numeral, verb phrases, and adjective. Noun phrases may be joined by connectives, as ਅਤੇ/ਤੇ atē/tē ‘and’ and ਜਾਂ jāṃ ‘or’, to form compound subjects or objects. Connectives join noun phrases including modifiers if any, rather than just the nouns. For example, ਚੰਗਾ ਮੁੰਡਾ ਤੇ ਕੁਡ਼ੀ caṅgā muṇḍā atē kuṛī ‘Good boy and girl’ is formed of ਚੰਗਾ ਮੁੰਡਾ caṅgā muṇḍā ‘good boy’ and ਕੁਡ਼ੀ kuṛī ‘girl’.

Based on the above structure of ‘Noun Phrase’, we can now categorize nominal phrases into at least three types, which are:

Noun Phrase

Noun phrase having headword in direct case or in oblique case followed by postpositions – ਨੇ or ਨੂੰ nūṃ, are used as main sentence elements. If the headword is a pronoun, then it may not take ਨੇ or ਨੂੰ nūṃ rather it will be in instrumental case (for ਨੇ ) or dative case (for ਨੂੰ nūṃ) form.

Adjective Phrase

Noun phrase in oblique case followed by ਦਾ postposition, pronoun in genitive case, or one or more adjectives, will act as adjective phrases in sentences.

Postpositional Phrase

Noun phrase in ablative or locative case or in oblique case followed by any postpositions, or an adverb, are used as adjuncts in sentences.
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