What is a Phrase?
Phrases appear in a group of words that are chunked together as a grammatical unit being part of a clause or a sentence.
A phrase does not convey a complete sense and thought. Because it has neither a subject nor a verb. In contrast, it’s smaller than a clause. But there are the main types of Phrases in English, enlisted below:
|No.||Types of Phrases||Examples|
|1.||Noun Phrase||an honest boy|
|2.||Verb Phrase||would like|
|3.||Adjective Phrase||small birds|
|4.||Adverb Phrase||very fast|
|5.||Prepositional Phrase||in the field|
|6.||Gerund Phrases||picking the apples|
|7.||Infinitive Phrase||to jump|
|8.||Participle Phrases||sitting in the corner|
|9.||Appositive Phrase||Quaid, the founder of Pak|
Real Examples of Phrases in Sentences
- The lamp is lying at the table.
- In the fields, my cows are grazing.
- The passengers are waiting for the rail.
- Your officer will visit during this month.
- Maham makes breakfast early in the morning.
So, look at these different Phrases:
- at the table
- In the fields
- for the rail
- during this month
- early in the morning
- my friend from Paris
- to jump over the wall
- jumping over the wall
These are groups of words that stand together as a single grammatical unit. So, these words are function as different types of phrases.
Different Functions of Phrases
I am looking for a famous book to make me laugh. =That describes a book, its functioning as= an adjective.
She is going to Paris to buy a book.
=To buy a book= that tells us the reason=why she is going to Paris. So, it is functioning like= an adverb.
I am looking for a scary book.
That is functioning as= a noun.
I am looking for a book.
Here, = “am looking” that group of words is functioning like= a verb.
Now, these are the common grammatical units but actually, phrases can function as other ones too. For example:
- According to= is a preposition.
- No one= is an example of a pronoun.
- Not only, but also= is a type of conjunction called correlative conjunction.
- A few books= “a few” is a determiner.
Types of Phrases with Examples
A noun phrase is a group of words in which a noun functions as a headword with a modifier e.g., premodifiers and sometimes postmodifiers. For Example:
- I like these two books.
- Many people love these apple trees. 🍎
- A lot of problems will finish one day.
- The young boy bought that bicycle.
- Thousands of birds like to eat green fruit.
- My friend from Paris writes books about ghosts.
Pre modifier: (a word that is placed before the head of the phrase). Postmodifier: (a word that is placed after the head of the phrase). For example:
The phrase “my friend from Paris” is functioning as= a Pre modifier of this noun phrase and “books about ghosts” is functioning as= a post-modifier. But they are groups of words with a noun as a headword, so, they are Noun Phrases.
- Please pass me the red plate.
- He has extremely evil eyes.
- A monkey is smarter than other animals.
- The audience was extremely delighted to see the hero.
- I am rather fond of writing letters.
- I met a lady with blue eyes.
- This glass door is of pink color.
“The red plate”, this phrase is functioning like= an adjective. Because it describes the plate telling us which plate we could have said.
- She sings with passion. (How)
- We lived a happy life in those days. (When)
- She makes us always happy.☺(How often)
- My friend is sleeping under the shade. (Where)
- We bought this home before the summer vacation. (When)
- A Leopard can run very faster than an Olympic cyclist. (How much)
The phrase, “with passion”, tells us =how she sings, it’s functioning as an adverb of manner.
“Very faster than an Olympic cyclist” This phrase is functioning as an adverb of frequency; it is describing the verb=run.
- The plate is on the table.
- We’re happy to see you in time.
- They are standing in the corner.
- The thief 🕵 is running 🏃 after us.
- Why are you staying with the strangers?
A gerund phrase is a phrase headed by a gerund (a word with =ing form but behaves as a noun e.g., Smoking is prohibited here.) For example:
- Collecting old bottles is my hobby.
- Writing books is my passion.
- Throwing garbage is not allowed here.
- In my childhood, I liked eating sweets.
- I loved to see the flying kites.
- These eye-catching moments will never return.
“Collecting old bottles” is an example of a = gerund, it behaves as a noun if you ask what my hobby is.
- I like to collect old bottles.
- Her profession is to repair the phones.
- To jump over the wall is dangerous.
- It’s not easy to keep everyone happy.
- I asked him to create a beautiful design.
- To obtain everybody’s trust is the best rule of life.
These phrases are headed by =the infinitives, given below.
Note: The gerund phrase and the infinitive phrase shown here are both noun phrases.
A participial phrase is a group of words that appears to be a verb but is an adjective that modifies a noun in the same sentence. But this kind of phrase may “boost up” a noun by adding more information about what it’s doing or how it appears.
- The dog sitting in the corner looks like snoopy.
- Slowly walking on foot, she got late.
- The worker got tired working all the day.
- Fond of eating more than need, he got fat.
- I’m not interested in growing my hair.
- No problem is solved with just making complains.
The group of words, “sitting in the corner” is a phrase headed by a participle. Because it is describing the dog. So, it is an adjective phrase. Because the participle= sitting is a type of an adjective.
An Appositive is a noun phrase that renames or redescribes things by giving more details and information about a subject. Because it provides more explanation enriching the sentence to clarify its meaning.
- Quaid-e-Azam, the founder of Pakistan, was a lawyer.
- The lion, king of the jungle, is an animal with attitude.
- Karim, the expert hunter, couldn’t hunt a deer.
- My classmate, Ahmad, is a wise boy.
- The city of palaces, Kasur, is not a very old city.
- Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII, was a queen of England.
Difference between Phrases and Clauses
A clause just like a phrase is also a group of words but it contains its’s subject and a verb. And, it functions as one part of speech or one grammatical unit.
- My friend Zaim, writes books about ghosts from Paris.
- That is an= adjectival phrase describing=, my friend.
But, look at this:
- My friend who lives in Paris writes books about ghosts.
- =who lives in Paris= is also describing= my friend but this group of words has a subject and a verb. So, that’s what makes it a clause. So, this is an adjective clause.
A clause contains a subject and verb, unlike a phrase. So, this is the main difference between a phrase and a clause.
Common Mistakes with Phrases
The first one is a noun phrase and the second is an adjectival phrase. But in this whole noun phrase= “a box of letters” the head noun in the box which is singular= of letters is just an= adjective it doesn’t determine the verb.
He fed the sharks in the cage.
Now, this is ambiguous so I’m going to mark it as wrong. =The sharks in the cage, that looks like a noun phrase. But that would be an unusual scenario so context would tell us that that was wrong.
Knowing the context will make it clear, For example:
He fed the sharks in the cage so the sharks would not be hungry.
Here, =” the sharks” is a noun phrase, =in the cage would be an adverbial phrase, and it tells us where he fed the sharks. Because adverbs modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb to tell us how, when, where, why, how much, or how many. So, in this example, it’s telling us where. So, in the cage is a phrase functioning as an adverb. Because when you have a phrase functioning like an adverb or an adjective and it’s fronted it is usual to offset it with a comma.