Phrases in English | English Grammar Lessons

phrases in english

A phrase can be seen many often in a sentence. When it comes to its definition, it can be said a group of words that has neither a subject nor a predicate. 

For example:

On the track

The school children

Through the pipe

To mix peanut butter and jam


A phrase cannot convey a complete thought. In other words, it gives no clear meaning in a sentence without a clause.

A phrase can stand alone. to put it another way, it is always used with a clause.

Types of phrases

1. Noun Phrase

Any phrase that has noun with at least one modifier either before it or after  it is known as a noun phrase.

For example:

I am living a healthy lifestyle.

In the above example, lifestyle is noun while healthy is a modifier.

They are waiting for the school bus.

In the above example, bus is noun while the school is a modifier.

2. verb phrase

A verb phrase is a group of verbs that work together in a sentence.

For example:

I am waiting for you.

They have been doing the work.

He can solve this puzzle.

In the above examples, there is the combination of the following:

Helping verb + main verb

Modal verb + main verb.

Sometimes, an adverb can be used in a verb phrase to modify the verb in the sentence.

For example:

I have never tried this before.

They have always cheated us.

Above, never and and always have been used as adverbs.

3. Prepositional phrase

Such type of phrase is always followed by a noun or pronoun(and its modifier).

For example:

She was running on the athletic track.

They are playing in the sun.

Are you going there on Sunday.

4. Verbal phrase

Sometimes, a verb in a phrase is not a verb itself. In other words, it is not a form of the verb.
For example:
They are waiting in the sun.
Above, “are waiting” is a verb phrase, and waiting is main verb. However it is not a verb itself.

Verbals are of three types:

1. Participial phrase: When a participle is followed by other words in a sentence, it is called a participial phrase.

For example:

I saw him chasing a butterfly.

She bought a ring made of diamond.

2. Gerund phrase: When a gerund is followed by a direct object and a modifier in a sentence, it is called a gerund phrase.

For example:

Loving Geeta blindly cost Rohan a lot.

Cutting trees indiscriminately causes soil erosion.

3. Infinitive phrase: When an infinitive is followed by a direct object and a modifier in a sentence, it is called an infinitive phrase.

For example:

She wants to read the novel silently.

They want to win the prize smartly.

5. Appositive phrase

An appositive phrase renames a noun or a pronoun used before it in a sentence.

For example:

The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is on the way to Bengal for the election campaign.

Akram Khan, the director of English period, wrote this article.

6. Absolute phrase

An absolute phrase modifies the whole sentence. It doesn’t effect the sentence. However, its use can add more details to the sentence.

For example:

Being a doctor, you should know this.

Being a teacher, you should be learning new things.

The flood came, all villagers left the village.

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