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In a phrase like 'each has a different style and attitude' which is the head noun?

Is it right that the head noun can only ever be one word, so I couldn't say it was 'style and attitude'?

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1 Answer 1

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Neither noun is the head. "A different [style and attitude]" contains the bracketed coordination of two nouns. Each element in a coordination is of equal status and hence coordination is said to be a non-headed construction.

It contrasts with the non-coordinated "Each has a [different style]", where the noun "style" is head of the bracketed nominal and the modifier "different" is a dependent of the head.

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  • @marcellothearcane Phrases typically have heads and dependents, as I mentioned in the second para of my answer. But a coordination is said to be a non-headed construction because the elements are of equal syntactic status, i.e. none of them can be identified as head with the others as dependents. In the OP's "Each has a different [style and attitude]", neither ""style" nor "attitude" is head since neither has a higher status than the other, so the coordination is said to be non-headed
    – BillJ
    Jul 16, 2017 at 14:15

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