• Phrases and clauses are the building blocks of
• A phrase is a group of words that act as a part of
speech but cannot stand alone as a sentence.
• Clauses are groups of words that has a subject and a
• A sentence expresses a complete thought and contains
a subject, a noun, pronoun, a predicate, a verb and a
A phrase is any group of related words, that unlike a
sentence has no subject- predicate combination. The
words in a phrase act together so that the phrase itself
functions as a single part of speech. For example some
phrases act like nouns, some as verbs, some as
adjectives or adverbs. Remember that phrases cant
stand alone as sentences.
A cool wet afternoon.( noun phrase)
You can’t eat that.( verb phrase)
She is fond of cooking.( Adjective phrase)
• The object of a preposition can have its own modifiers,
which also are part of the prepositional phrase.
In the smoky, crowded room
By the rushing river
Of the remaining few people
• Prepositional phrase works as either
adjectives or adverbs.
The woman in the woolen coat pulled out her cell phone.
The Participle Phrases
• A participle phrase begins with a present or past
participle and followed by its objects and modifiers. Like
participles alone, participle phrases are used as
Sniffing the fresh air, Ayyan realized he had found
• In this sentence the present participle sniffing introduces
the participle phrase which includes the participle’s
object( air) and its modifiers( the, fresh).
• The soldiers, trapped by the enemy, threw down their
• Here, the past participle trapped introduces the participle
phrase trapped by the enemy. The entire phrase acts as
an adjective modifying the subject of the sentence
(soldiers). Notice the phrase within phrase here. By the
enemy is a prepositional phrase modifying the participle
• Remember that phrases can act as modifiers in other
The Gerund Phrase
• A gerund phrase may look like a participle phrase
because gerund phrase begin with the –ing form of a
verb( riding, seeing, talking etc) and have objects and
modifiers. But a gerund phrase acts as a noun in a
sentence, not as an adjective.
• A gerund phrase can serve as the subject of the
sentence, the object of a verb or preposition, or the
compliment of a linking verb.
Riding the black stallion, terrified Hammad.
• In this sentence the gerund phrase, riding the black
stallion acts as a noun and is the
subject of the verb terrified.
The Infinitive Phrase
• The infinitive phrase contains an infinitive( to sleep, to
have slept, to consider, to throw) and its objects and
modifiers. Infinitive phrases usually function as nouns,
though they can be used as adjectives and adverbs.
To sleep all night was his only wish.
• In this sentence to sleep all night
is the infinitive phrase acting as a noun.
It is the subject of the sentence.
The representative didn’t want to take an unpopular
• To take an unpopular stand is an infinitive phrase acting
as a noun. It is the direct object of the predicate didn’t
He has plenty of money to spend foolishly.
• The infinitive phrase to spend foolishly acts as an
adjective modifying noun money.
After the accident, she drove mile to clear her mind.
• To clear her mind acts as an adverb modifying drove. It
answers the question “ Why did she drive?”
• A noun phrase consists of a noun and other related
words( usually modifiers and determiners) which modify
the noun. It functions like a noun in the sentence. The
whole phrase works as a noun in the sentence.
Noun phrase= noun + modifier
He is wearing a nice red shirt. (as noun/ object)
She brought a glass full of water. (as noun/ object)
The boy with brown hair is laughing. (as noun/ subject)
• A sentence can also contain more noun phrases.
The girl with blue eyes bought
a beautiful chair.
• A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition, object
of preposition( noun or pronoun) and may also consist of
other modifiers. A prepositional phrase functions as an
adjective or adverb in a sentence.
A boy on the roof is singing a song.( as adjective)
The man in the room is our teacher.( as adjective)
She is shouting in a loud voice.( as adverb)
He always behaves in a good manner.( as adverb)
• An adjective phrase is a group of words that functions
like an adjective in the sentence. An adjective phrase
functions like an adjective to modify a noun or a pronoun
in a sentence.
He is wearing a nice red shirt.( modifies shirt)
He gave me a glass full of water.( modifies glass)
• Prepositional and participle phrases also functions as
adjective so we can also call them adjective phrases
when they function as adjectives. In the sentence “ The
girl with brown hair is singing a song”, the phrase “ with
brown hair” is a prepositional
phrase but it functions as an
• An adverb phrase is a group of words that functions as
an adverb in a sentence. It consists of adverb and other
words( preposition, noun, verb, modifiers). An adverb
phrase functions like an adverb to modify a verb, an
adjective or another adverb.
She always drives with care.( modifies verb drive)
He returned in a short while.( modified verb return).
• A prepositional can also act as an adverb phrase. In this
sentence “ He always behaves in a good manner”, the
phrase” good manner” is a prepositional phrase but it
acts as adverb phrase here.
• A verb phrase is a combination of main verb and its
auxiliaries( helping verbs) in a sentence.
He is eating an apple.
She has finished her work.
• A verb phrase can consists of a main verb, its auxiliaries,
its compliments and other modifiers. Hence, it can refer
to the whole predicate of a sentence.
• Example: You should study for the exam.
• Absolute phrase( also called nominative phrase) is a
group of words including a noun and pronoun and a
participle as well as any associated modifier. Absolute
phrase modifies the entire sentence. It resembles a
clause but it lack a true finite verb. It is separated by a
comma or pair of commas from the rest of the sentence.
He looks sad, his face expressing worry.
She was waiting for her friend, her eyes on the clock.
John is painting a wall, his shirt dirty with paint.
• A clause is group of related words containing a subject
• For example: He laughed.
I will meet him in office.
• The part of above sentence “ I will meet him” is a clause
because it has a subject( I ) and a predicate ( will meet
him ). But the remaining part of the sentence “ in office”
lacks both subject and predicate such group of words is
• A clause may stand as a simple sentence or may join
another clause to make it a sentence.
• Therefore, a sentence consists of one, two or more
• He is sleeping. ( one clause)
• The kids were laughing at the joker. ( one clause)
• The teacher asked a question, but no one answered.
• I like Mathematics, but my brother likes Biology,
because he wants to become a doctor. ( three clauses)
Types of Clauses
• There are two main types of clauses main ( or
independent) clause and subordinate ( or dependent)
• Main clause is a clause that expresses a complete
thought and can stand as a sentence.
I met the boyI met the boy who had helped me.
She is wearing a shirt which looks nice.
He takes medicine because he suffers from fever.
• The group of words that has a subject and verb
but( unlike an independent clause) cannot stand alone
as a sentence. Also known as a dependent clause.
Whenever I sharpened my pencil.
This is a subordinate clause. We don’t understand that
what happens whenever(he) sharpened(his) pencil. It
need an independent clause to make sense.
Types of Subordinate Clause
• Subordinate clauses can be divided into following types:
• Noun Clause: What he did made a problem for his
• In this sentence the clause “ what he did” functions as a
noun, so it is a noun clause. A noun clause works as a
noun that acts as a subject, object, or predicate in a
sentence. A noun clause starts with words, “that, what,
whatever, who, whom, whoever, whomever.
Whatever you learn will help you in future.( as a subject)
What you said made me laugh.( as a subject)
He knows that he will pass the
the test.( as an object)
• Adjective Clause: A pendent clause that functions as an
adjective in a sentence is called an adjective clause.
He wears a shirt that looks nice.
• The clause “ which looks nice” is an adjective clause
because it modifies noun “shirt”.
• Adjective clause begins with relative pronoun( that, who,
whom, whose, which). An adjective clause precedes a
noun it modifies.
I met the boy who had helped me.
An apple that smells bad is rotten.
• An adjective clause can be restrictive or non restrictive.
• A restrictive clause limits the meaning of preceding noun
The table that costs Rs.1000 is made of steel.
• A non restrictive clause tells us something about noun or
pronoun but does not limit the meaning of noun or
The table, which costs Rs. 1000, is made of steel.
• Adverb Clause: The dependent clause that functions as
an adverb in the sentence is called an adverb clause. It
modifies the situation in the main clause in terms of time,
frequency, cause and effect, contrast, condition and
• Don’t go before he comes.
• He takes medicine because he is ill.
• I will go to the school unless it rains.
• You are safe as long as you drive carefully.
The subordinating conjunctions used for adverb clauses
Time Cause and Effect Contrast Condition
When/whenever because Although If/only if
Since/ until since even unless
Before/after Now that Whereas Whether or not
While/as As long as While Even if
By the time so though Providing or
As soon as So that In case