What is a phrase?
A phrase is a group of words without a subject-verb component.
A phrase doesn’t make sense on its own as it needs to be used in a sentence with a subject and a verb.
There are different types of phrases depending on which element the phrase acts as.
The types of phrases are:
- Noun phrase
- Verb phrase
- Adjective phrase
- Adverb phrase
- Prepositional phrase
A noun phrase consists of a noun plus a modifier or determiner, e.g. best friend.
As a noun, it can function as the subject, object, or both.
➜ Stacey is my best friend.
A verb phrase consists of the main verb plus a modal verb +/or a helping verb e.g. was playing. In this example, was is the helping verb and the main verb is sleeping. So the main verb comes at the end of the phrase.
➜ Tom was sleeping on the sofa.
An adjective phrase describes a noun or pronoun e.g. very pretty.
➜ Lucy is very pretty.
An adverb phrase modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb e.g. really quickly.
➜ Jamie ran really quickly.
A prepositional phrase describes a place time or direction e.g. in the bin.
➜ I threw the paper in the bin.
A gerund phrase is similar to a noun phrase. It consists of a verb ending in -ing that functions as a noun e.g. running slowly.
➜ She was walking slowly.
An easy way to identify the difference between a clause and a phrase is to look for the subject and verb in the sentence.
In order to turn a phrase into a clause, you just need to add a subject and a verb.
The prepositional phrase ‘in the box‘ doesn’t contain a subject and a verb. Therefore we can add a subject and a verb in order to turn it into a clause like this:
The cat sits in the box.
The subject is the cat, the verb is sit, and the prepositional phrase is in the box.