Phrases - Definition, Types and How to Use Them with Examples

Most English language users are fond of using phrases in their sentences. In this article, you will learn all about phrases, their meaning and definition, types of phrases and how to use them in sentences. There are examples and practice questions also given in the article to help you in your learning process.

Table of Contents

What Is a Phrase?

A phrase is a group of words that forms a grammatical component. It can be used to communicate something. It is a part of a sentence and cannot stand on its own. Phrases provide more information about whatever the sentence is speaking about.

Definition of a Phrase

A phrase, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “a group of words without a finite verb, especially one that forms part of a sentence.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a phrase is defined as “a group of words that is part of, rather than the whole of a sentence.” The Collins Dictionary defines a phrase as “a short group of words that people often use as a way of saying something. The meaning of a phrase is often not obvious from the meaning of the individual words in it.” It is also defined as “a small group of words which forms a unit, either on its own or within a sentence.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a phrase as “a word or group of words forming a syntactic constituent with a single grammatical function.”

Types of Phrases with Examples

In English grammar, there are five main types of phrases. They are,

Other types of phrases include gerund phrase, appositive phrase, participle phrase and infinitive phrase.

Noun Phrase

A noun phrase is a group of words that have a noun or pronoun. It is used to modify the noun. In other words, it can be said that a noun phrase can function as a subject, an object or a complement in a sentence.

For example:

  • My brother’s friend had come to visit him. (Used as a subject)
  • Scented candles are my favourite. (Used as a subject)
  • The students were asked to find the buried treasure. (Used as an object)

Adjective Phrase

An adjective phrase or an adjectival phrase is a group of words that consists of an adjective. It can be used to complement it. It provides more information about the noun or pronoun in a sentence. In other words, it can be said that it functions just like an adjective in a sentence.

For example:

  • Annu has silky, smooth hair.
  • People, living in large cities, often find it difficult to reach in time.
  • The team that made it to the final was congratulated in front of the whole school.

Adverb Phrase

An adverb phrase or an adverbial phrase is a group of words that includes an adverb and other modifiers. It performs all the functions of an adverb. It can be placed in any part of the sentence, with respect to the part of speech they modify.

For example:

  • We are planning to finish our group project by the end of May.
  • Later this evening, my cousins and I have planned to go to the park.
  • They saw some abandoned puppies at the corner of the street.

Verb Phrase

A verb phrase can be used just like a verb. It consists of a main verb and an auxiliary verb.

For example:

  • Students are practising hard in order to participate in the state tournament.
  • Aaron has been writing multiplication tables for three hours.
  • The dogs have been barking continuously.

Prepositional Phrase

A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition and an object. It works just like an adjective or an adverb. It relates the subject and the verb in a sentence. It is used to modify the nouns and verbs in a particular sentence.

For example:

  • It was too hard for me to concentrate with the kids jumping around.
  • The jewellery boxes were kept inside the cupboard.
  • On the way to New York, we caught sight of the famous Niagara falls.

How to Use Phrases? – Rules and Points to Remember

There are some things that you have to remember when using phrases.

  • Phrases are just a part of the sentence and cannot stand alone.
  • They do not give complete meaning if taken out of context.
  • They are mostly used to provide extra information about the subject, object or other components in a sentence.
  • There can be more than one phrase in a sentence.
  • Make sure that the phrase gives your sentence clarity and does not simply accumulate the sentence with information.

Check Your Understanding of Phrases

Identify the phrases in the following sentences and also state the type of phrase.

1. Danny was playing video games on his phone.

2. Nandhu, Vishnu and Arjun like going on road trips.

3. The girl, in the black dress, is my colleague.

4. We found an unowned vehicle parked in front of our house.

5. The savouries that were served today were extremely sweet.

6. That little boy is my friend’s son.

7. Xavier found a white, furry bunny in their backyard.

8. The plant in the right corner of the garden finally bloomed.

9. Bangalore seems to be a busy, crowded and advanced city.

10. The security guard was unusually kind to all the employees today.

 

Now, find out if you have identified the phrases correctly.

1. Danny was playing video games on his phone. – Verb phrase, Prepositional phrase

2. Nandhu, Vishnu and Arjun like going on road trips. – Noun phrase

3. The girl, in the black dress, is my colleague. – Adjective phrase

4. We found an unowned vehicle parked in front of our house. – Noun phrase, Prepositional phrase

5. The savouries that were served today were extremely sweet. – Adverb Phrase

6. That little boy is my friend’s son. – Noun phrase, Noun phrase

7. Xavier found a white, furry bunny in their backyard. – Adjective phrase, Prepositional phrase

8. The plant in the right corner of the garden finally bloomed. – Prepositional phrase

9. Bangalore seems to be a busy, crowded and advanced city. – Adjective phrase

10. The security guard was unusually kind to all the employees today. – Adverb phrase

Frequently Asked Questions on Phrases in English

What is a phrase?

A phrase is a group of words that forms a grammatical component. It can be used to communicate something. It is a part of a sentence and cannot stand on its own. Phrases provide more information about whatever the sentence is speaking about.

What is the definition of a phrase?

A phrase, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “a group of words without a finite verb, especially one that forms part of a sentence.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a phrase is defined as “a group of words that is part of, rather than the whole of, a sentence.” The Collins Dictionary defines a phrase as “a short group of words that people often use as a way of saying something. The meaning of a phrase is often not obvious from the meaning of the individual words in it.” It is also defined as “a small group of words which forms a unit, either on its own or within a sentence.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a phrase as “a word or group of words forming a syntactic constituent with a single grammatical function.”

What are the types of phrases?

There are five different types of phrases in English and they are,

  • Noun phrase
  • Adjective phrase
  • Adverb phrase
  • Verb phrase
  • Prepositional phrase

Give some examples of phrases.

Take a look at the following examples to understand how phrases are used.

  • The students were asked to find the buried treasure.
  • On the way to New York, we caught sight of the famous Niagara falls.
  • Students are practising hard in order to participate in the state tournament.
  • Later this evening, my cousins and I have planned to go to the park.
  • They saw some abandoned puppies at the corner of the street.

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