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Introduction to PhrasesThere are different views as to how many types of phrases there are. Somesay 5 (five), 6 (six), 9 (nine) and I say there are 10 (ten). I will show you andthen you can decide for yourself.A phrase is a group of related words that does not include a subject andverb. (If the group of related words does contain a subject and verb, it isconsidered a clause.)A phrase is a group of words without both a subject and predicate. Thereare several different kinds of phrases. Understanding how they areconstructed and how they function within a sentence can bolster a writersconfidence in writing sentences that are sound in structure and various inform. Phrases combine words into a larger unit that can function as asentence element. For example, a participial phrase can includeadjectives, nouns, prepositions and adverbs; as a single unit, however, itfunctions as one big adjective modifying a noun (or noun phrase).
Phrases are considered as the second level of classification as theytend to be larger than individual words, but are smaller thansentences. We refer to the central element in a phrase as the head ofthe phrase. If the head is a noun then the phrase is called a nounphrase.There are nine generally accepted classifications for phrases. Theseclassifications are generally based on the headword or constructionof the phrase. The headword can usually stand alone as a one-wordphrase. It is the only part that cannot be omitted from the phrase. A phrase is a group of words without both a subject and predicate. Phrases combine words into a larger unit that can function as a sentence element. For example, a participial phrase can include adjectives, nouns, prepositions and adverbs; as a single unit, however, it functions as one big adjective modifying a noun (or noun phrase).
Overview of PhrasesNoun Phrase - “The crazy old lady in the park feeds the pigeons everyday.” A noun phrase consists of a noun and all of its modifiers, which caninclude other phrases (like the prepositional phrase in the park).Appositive Phrase – “Bob, my best friend, works here” or “My bestfriend Bob works here.” An appositive (single word, phrase, or clause)renames another noun, not technically modifying it.Gerund Phrase - “I love baking cakes.” A gerund phrase is just a noun phrasewith a gerund as its head.
Infinitive Phrase – “I love to bake cakes.” An infinitive phrase is a nounphrase with an infinitive as its head. Unlike the other nounphrases, however, an infinitive phrase can also function as an adjectiveor an adverb.Verb Phrase – The verb phrase can refer to the whole predicate of asentence (I was watching my favorite show yesterday) or just the verb orverb group (was watching).Adverbial Phrase – The adverbial phrase also has two definitions; somesay it’s a group of adverbs (very quickly), while others say it’s any phrase(usually a prepositional phrase) that acts as an adverbAdjectival Phrase – As with adverbial phrases, adjectival phrases caneither refer to a group of adjectives (full of toys) or any phrase (like aparticipial or prepositional phrase) that acts as an adjective
Participial Phrase – “Crushed to pieces by a sledgehammer, thecomputer no longer worked” or “I think the guy sitting over there likesyou.” A participial phrase has a past or present participle as its head.Participial phrases always function as adjectives.Prepositional Phrase – “The food on the table looked delicious.” Aprepositional phrase, which has a preposition as its head, canfunction as an adjective, adverb, or even as a noun.Absolute Phrase – “My cake finally baking in the oven, I was free torest for thirty minutes.” Unlike participial phrases, absolute phraseshave subjects and modify the entire sentence, not one noun. Almost aclause, the absolute phrase can include every sentence elementexcept a finite verb. For example, “My cake finally baking in the oven”would be its own sentence if you just added one finite verb: “My cakewas finally baking in the oven.”
Noun PhrasesNOUN PHRASE = noun + modifiers A noun phrase is a group of related words which play the role of a noun. Like all phrases, a noun phrase does not have a subject and a verb. A noun phrase consists of a noun and all of its modifiers. It can function in a sentence as a subject, object, or complement. Some American school boards have begun to consider compensating teachers based on how noun phrase = subject well they teach rather than how long. Critics reject these controversial pay-for- performance plans, maintaining that they are noun phrase = direct object unfair to teachers who have unusually difficult students. According to both sides of the debate, teaching is a valuable profession, and compensation for noun phrase = complement this important job must be improved.
Examples:The shopkeeper will only allow 2 children in at once. (normal noun)The overweight shopkeeper will only allow 2 children... (noun phrase)Give it back to the boy. (normal noun)Give it back to the boy on the boat. (noun phrase)Interactive example: Those aliens from Mars must have stolen your precious stapler. [show me the noun phrase]
Often a noun phrase is just a noun or a pronoun: People like to have money. I am tired. It is getting late. or a determiner and a noun …: Our friends have bought a house in the village. Those houses are very expensive. … perhaps with an adjective: Our closest friends have just bought a new house in the village. Sometimes the noun phrase begins with a quantifier: All those children go to school here. Both of my younger brothers are married Some people spend a lot of money.
Numbers:Quantifiers come before determiners, but numbers come after determiners: My four children go to school here. (All my children go to school here.) Those two suitcases are mine. (Both those suitcases are mine)So the noun phrase is built up in this way: Noun: people; money Determiner + noun: the village, a house, our friends; those houses Quantifier + noun: some people; a lot of money Determiner + adjective + noun: our closest friends; a new house. Quantifier + determiner + noun: all those children; Quantifier + determiner + adjective + noun: both of my younger brothersThe noun phrase can be quite complicated: a loaf of nice fresh brown bread the eight-year-old boy who attempted to rob a sweet shop with a pistol that attractive young woman in the blue dress sitting over there in the corner
Some words and phrases come after the noun. These are calledpost modifiers. A noun phrase can be post modified in severalways. Here are some examples:• with a prepositional phrase: a man with a gun the boy in the blue shirt the house on the corner • with an –ing phrase: the man standing over there the boy talking to Angela • with a relative clause: the man we met yesterday the house that Jack built the woman who discovered radium an eight-year-old boy who attempted to rob a sweet shop
• with a that clause.This is very common with reporting or summarising nouns like idea, fact, belief,suggestion: He’s still very fit, in spite of the fact that he’s over eighty. She got the idea that people didn’t like her. There was a suggestion that the children should be sent home. • with a to-infinitive. This is very common after indefinite pronouns and adverbs: You should take something to read. I need somewhere to sleep. I’ve got no decent shoes to wear.There may be more than one post modifier: an eight-year old boy with a gun who tried to rob a sweet shop that girl over there in a green dress drinking a coke
Appositive/Apposition APPOSITIVE PHRASE = noun phrase or other phrase functioning as a noun An appositive phrase is a noun phrase or any other type of phrase functioning as a noun that renames a noun/pronoun preceding it. ExamplesDetermined looks on their faces, parents waitedin line outside the mall at 12:01 a.m. on appositive phrase = infinitive phraseSaturday with one goal in mind, to get the renaming goalnewest Harry Potter book for their children.In the first book of the series, Harry, an orphanwho is forced to live with relatives who detest appositive phrase = noun phrasehim, receives an invitation to study at the renaming HarryHogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
An appositive is the word(s) which follow a noun to rename it or describe it in another way. Appositives are usually offset with commas, brackets or dashes.Examples: My best friend, Lee, caught a whelk when he was fishing for bass. noun appositive Dr Pat, the creator of the turnip brew, sold 8 barrels on the first day. appositive of "Dr Pat" (Apposition: "Lee" is in apposition to "My best friend", and "the creator of the turnip brew" is in apposition to "Dr Pat".)
Interactive example: Dont leave your shoes there, or my dog, Ollie, will munch them. [show me the appositive] If the appositive is just additional information (i.e., you could remove it from the sentence without any loss of meaning), then it should be offset from the remainder of the sentence (usually with commas). Jane Smith, who swam 100m in under a minute, wins the award for most improved swimmer.
Recognize an appositive when you see one.An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that renames another noun rightbeside it. The appositive can be a short or long combination of words. Lookat these examples: The insect, a cockroach, is crawling across the kitchen table. The insect, a large cockroach, is crawling across the kitchen table. The insect, a large cockroach with hairy legs, is crawling across the kitchen table. The insect, a large, hairy-legged cockroach that has spied my bowl of oatmeal, is crawling across the kitchen table.
Here are more examples: During the dinner conversation, Clifford, the messiest eater at the table, spewed mashed potatoes like an erupting volcano. My 286 computer, a modern-day dinosaur, chews floppy disks as noisily as my brother does peanut brittle. Genettes bedroom desk, the biggest disaster area in the house, is a collection of overdue library books, dirty plates, computer components, old mail, cat hair, and empty potato chip bags. Reliable, Dianes eleven-year-old beagle, chews holes in the living room carpeting as if he were still a puppy.
Punctuate the appositive correctly. The important point to remember is that a nonessential appositive is always separated from the rest of the sentence with comma(s).When the appositive begins the sentence, it looks like this: A hot-tempered tennis player, Robbie charged the umpire and tried to crack the poor mans skull with a racket.When the appositive interrupts the sentence, it looks like this: Robbie, a hot-tempered tennis player, charged the umpire and tried to crack the poor mans skull with a racket. And when the appositive ends the sentence, it looks like this: Upset by the bad call, the crowd cheered Robbie, a hot- tempered tennis player who charged the umpire and tried to crack the poor mans skull with a racket.
Gerund Phrase GERUND PHRASE = gerund + modifiers, objects, or complementsA gerund phrase includes a gerund and its modifiers, objects, or complements.It always functions as a noun.Examples Becoming a Wimbledon finalist was Patrick Rafters only thought as he competed against gerund phrase = subject Andre Agassi during a semifinal match. Venus Williams dreamt all her life about gerund phrase = object of the playing in the Grand Slam final at Wimbledon. preposition about One of Serena Williams biggest disappointments after her semifinal defeat gerund phrase = complement was losing her spot for tennis singles in the Olympics.
A gerund is a noun formed from a verb by adding the suffix "ing". The followingare all gerunds: Examples: climbing / polishing / eatingAlthough a gerund is a noun, it can still take an object (like a verb). The gerund, itsobject and all modifiers (adjectives and adverbs) are known as a gerund phrase. Examples: Eating blackberries without washing them will make you ill. gerund phrase
I am not prepared to authorise climbing the cliffs in the dark. gerund phraseInteractive example: So, you think beating eggs with a fork is acceptable, do you? [show me the gerund phrase]
Infinitive Phrase INFINITIVE PHRASE = infinitive + modifiers, objects, or complements An infinitive phrase consists of an infinitive and its modifiers, objects, or complements. It can function as a noun, adjective, or adverb.Examples To write clearly and concisely can be infinitive phrase = noun difficult sometimes for even the most functioning as the subject accomplished writers. Proofreading your writing is a good way to infinitive phrase = adjective ensure the absence of typing mistakes. modifying way To greatly increase the amount of stress in infinitive phrase = adverb your life, leave your writing task until the modifying leave night before it is due.
The infinitive form of a verb is usually preceded by "to" (e.g., to run, to dance, to think). An infinitive phrase is this form of the verb plus any complements or modifiers.Examples (infinitive phrases in bold): He helped to build the roof. Let me show you the best way to paint the door. The officer returned to help the inspectors.
Infinitive phrases can be used as nouns, adjectives and adverbs.Examples: He helped to build the roof. (noun) Let me show you the best way to paint the door. (adjective) The officer returned to help the inspectors. (adverb)Interactive example: The only solution is to lower the standards. [show me the infinitive phrase]
Verb Phrase VERB PHRASE = main verb + helping verbsA verb phrase includes a main verb and its helping verbs. It can functiononly as the predicate of a sentence.Examples High-tech businesses with more positions than employees are recruiting talented staffers from overseas. Without highly-trained foreign workers, many American companies would be forced to ship work off to other countries. Many labor advocates do fear that this practice of employing foreign staffers deprives Americans of work.
Recognize a verb phrase when you see one. Every sentence must have a verb. To depict doable activities, writers use action verbs. To describe conditions, writers choose linking verbs. Sometimes an action or condition occurs just once—pow!—and its over. Read these two short sentences: Offering her license and registration, Selena sobbed in the drivers seat. Officer Carson was unmoved.Other times, the activity or condition continues over a long stretch oftime, happens predictably, or occurs in relationship to other events. In theseinstances, a single-word verb like sobbed or was cannot accurately describewhat happened, so writers use multipart verb phrases to communicate whatthey mean. As many as four words can comprise a verb phrase.
A main or base verb indicates the type of action or condition, and auxiliary—or helping—verbs convey the other nuances that writers want to express.Read these three examples: The tires screeched as Selena mashed the accelerator. Selena is always disobeying the speed limit. Selena should have been driving with more care, for then she would not have gotten her third ticket this year.In the first sentence, screeched and mashed, single-word verbs, describe thequick actions of both the tires and Selena.Since Selena has an inclination to speed, is disobeying [a two-word verb]communicates the frequency of her law breaking. The auxiliary verbs thatcomprise should have been driving [a four-word verb] and would havegotten [a three-word verb] express not only time relationships but alsoevaluation of Selenas actions.
Realize that an adverb is not part of the verb phrase. Since a verb phrase might use up to four words, a short adverb—such as also, never, or not—might try to sneak in between the parts. When you find an adverb snuggled in a verb phrase, it is still an adverb, not part of the verb. Read these examples: For her birthday, Selena would also like a radar detector. Would like = verb; also = adverb. To avoid another speeding ticket, Selena will never again take her eyes off the road to fiddle with the radio. Will take = verb; never, again = adverbs. Despite the stern warning from Officer Carson, Selena has not lightened her foot on the accelerator. Has lightened = verb; not = adverb.
Adverbial Phrases An adverbial phrase is a group of related words which play the role of an adverb. Like all phrases, an adverbial phrase does not include a subject and a verb.Example: Tony decided to move to Reading yesterday. (normal adverb) Tony decided to move to Slough in June last year. (adverbial phrase)
Interactive example: Darcy can build a card pyramid in less than a minute. [show me the adverbial phrase] When an adverbial phrase is at the start of a sentence, it is usual to follow it with a comma. On the count of 3, leap across.
Adjective Phrases An adjective phrase usually starts with a preposition (e.g., of, in, on) or a participle (e.g., taken, leaving) and follows the noun it is modifying.Example: This is the end of a very long road. adjective phrase Did you see the man leaving the shop? adjective phrase
Interactive example: The mother of the boys was just as bad. [show me the adjective phrase]
Participle Phrases PARTICIPIAL PHRASE = participle + modifiers, objects, or complements A participial phrase consists of a present or past participle and its modifiers, objects, or complements. It always functions as an adjective.ExamplesOn the 10th anniversary of the fall of theBerlin Wall, Berliners remembering the end present participle phrase =of the Cold War celebrated with outdoor adjective modifying Berlinersconcerts, impromptu parties, andspectacular fireworks.Scattered across the world in bits andpieces, the Berlin Wall has virtually past participle phrase = adjectivedisappeared from its original location modifying Berlin Wallbetween East and West Berlin.
A participle phrase is an adjective phrase that starts with a participle. It usually follows the noun (or pronoun) which it modifies.Examples: You could see the panther releasing its grip. noun participle phrase (present participle) Is that Arthur running for the bus? noun participle phrase (present participle)We must raise funds to replace the window broken last week in the storm. noun participle phrase (past participle)
Prepositional PhrasePREPOSITIONAL PHRASE = preposition + object of the preposition + modifiers A preposition, its object, and its modifiers make up a prepositional phrase. It often functions as an adjective or adverb, but it can function as a noun as well. Examples Although previously abundant, the prepositional phrase = adjective water supply in the United States is modifying water supply expected to decline dramatically. Almost half of Africas population suffers prepositional phrase = adverb from water-related diseases. modifying suffers The best time to practice water prepositional phrase = noun conservation is before a water shortage. functioning as a complement
A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and ends with anoun or pronoun.Examples (prepositions in bold): There are a number of factors. prepositional phase The hamster sprinted across its cage. prepositional phase
Interactive example: The bus went along Cam St. and hit the top of the tunnel. [show me the prepositional phrase] Prepositional phrases sometimes make your subject seem plural, even though it might be singular. A container of nuts and bolts were found in the attic. (should be was / The subject is "container".)
Absolute Phrase ABSOLUTE PHRASE = noun/pronoun + participle + modifiers, objects, or complements An absolute phrase often includes a noun or pronoun, a participle, and any modifiers, objects or complements of the phrase. Usually set off by commas, it modifies an entire sentence rather than a specific word.ExamplesExtra-curricular activities demanding more and more of their attention, many childrendont have the time they need to develop strong emotional ties with their parents andsiblings.Some Minnesota parents, their patience and schedules stretched to the limit, have begunto fight back against extra-curricular programs that penalize children for spending timewith their families instead of attending additional mandatory practices or meetings.Family Life 1st! continues to spread the message about the importance of familytogetherness, its members encouraged by support from the religious community, andsurprisingly, the coaching community as well.
Recognize an absolute phrase when you see one.An absolute phrase combines a noun and a participle with any accompanyingmodifiers or objects. Here are some examples: Legs quivering Legs = noun; quivering = participle. Her arms folded across her chest Arms = noun; folded = participle; her, across her chest = modifiers.Our fingers scraping the leftover frosting off the plates Fingers = noun; scraping = participle; frosting = direct object; our, the, leftover, off the plates = modifiers.
Rather than modifying a specific word, an absolute phrase will describe thewhole clause: Legs quivering, our old dog Gizmo dreamed of chasing squirrels.Her arms folded across her chest, Professor Hill warned the class aboutthe penalties of plagiarism.We devoured Aunt Lenoras carrot cake, our fingers scraping the leftoverfrosting off the plates.
Quiz Identify the correct choice in each question and click on the to see whether your answer is correct.1. Stevens book, which made Oprahs Book Club this month, is not in any stores. a. prepositional phrase b. participial phrase c. gerund phrase d. infinitive phrase
2. While preparing for the speech, Joe couldnt help but worry abouthis entrance. a. prepositional phrase b. participial phrase c. gerund phrase d. infinitive phrase3. Ahmad wants to visit Quebec, but he will need to wait for his nextvacation. a. prepositional phrase b. participial phrase c. gerund phrase d. infinitive phrase
4. Hoping for a miracle, the doctors continued the surgery. a. prepositional phrase b. participial phrase c. gerund phrase d. infinitive phrase5. Our boss supports donating time to charity. a. prepositional phrase b. participial phrase c. gerund phrase d. infinitive phrase
6. Marta fell over the cat. a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional phrase e. clause f. participial phrase7. Pretending to be asleep, the hiker escaped the bear. a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
8. Susan Sarandon, a famous actress, has been verysupportive of the striking workers. a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
9. To finish the marathon in less than five hours is Toms goal. a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional phrase e. clause f. participial phrase10. She preferred eating at the local deli for lunch. a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional phrase e. clause f. participial phrase