What are “Phrases” in English grammar?

Phrase Definition : 

Groups of related words that do not express a complete thought or contain a subject-verb combination are considered as Phrases in English sentences. They stand together as a conceptual unit and typically form a component of a clause.

Some example of different kind of Phrases are being given below:

Prepositional Phrases:
over the mountain
around the ground
across the river

Participial Phrases:
playing the game
running the show

Verb Phrases:
will be taken
is sleeping

Infinitive Phrases:
to tell
to cut etc.

Some other type of phrases in English grammar:

Absolute Phrase-

Absolute phrase pattern – Noun + Participle + Optional Modifier(s) and/or Object(s)

Absolute phrases are optional in sentences, which usually consist of a noun and a modifier that modifies this noun, NOT another noun in the sentence. Absolute phrase cannot contain a FINITE VERB and they can be eliminated without damaging the grammatical structure the sentence.

Absolute phrase example:

His determination stronger than ever, Harry resolved not to give up until he had achieved his goals.

His arms folded across his chest, Professor Roy warned the students about the cheating.

Our car having developed engine trouble, we stopped for the night at a motel.

My right eye is twitching for an hour, Shall I expect some good news coming?

Adjective Phrase or Adjectival Phrase:

An adjective phrase is a group of words that acts as an adjective in a sentence which is also known as adjectival phrase.
The adjective in an adjective phrase can be at the beginning, end, or in the middle.

Tina lost her dark brown briefcase
The show was not that good.
A women hotter than you still has to born.
The semester exams were unbelievably easy.
Dad said the cost of that toy car is way too high.
A pig covered in mud came in front of my car.
The night is getting scarier and scarier.

Adverbial Phrase:

A group of words that plays the role of an adverb in a sentence are Adverbial Phrases. An Adverb Phrase, like an Adverb, may also modify an Adjective or Adverb as:

Bravely – In a brave manner
Unwisely – In an unwise manner
Swiftly – In a swift manner
Beautifully – In a beautiful style.
Formerly – In former times
Soon – Before very long, or at an early date.
There – At that place.
Away – To another place.
Abroad – A foreign country.

Adverbial Phrase Example:

The dog ran with a great speed.
He spoke in a very rude manner.
He finished the work without any care.
No such medicines were known in those days.
You can buy this stuff in all places

Appositive Phrase:

An appositive phrase consists of an appositive and its modifiers. An appositive in a sentence renames a noun right beside it; which can be a short or long combination of words.

Appositive Phrase example:

Indian Batsman Sachin Tendulkar is said to be a legend of cricket.
Novel, Gone with the Wind won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937.
Scientist Stephen Hawking died in March 2018.
Holi, a festival of color is quite popular in North
The insect, a large cockroach, is crawling across the cooktop.

Verb Phrase:

Verb Phrase = an Auxiliary or Helping Verb + Main Verb

As mentioned above a verb phrase is made of – an auxiliary or helping verb and a main verb.
Example of helping verbs those usually together with main verb form Verb Phrase:

Verb Phrase example in sentences:

John might need some help with his bike.
You can call me if you need any help with your work.
We both are going to attend Sarah birthday party.
You must work hard with the team to win the match.
You should take your shoes off before entering the temple.
We will distribute the script among all the participants.

Noun Phrases or Nominal Phrase:

Noun Phrase = A noun + Modifiers
A noun phrase are made of a noun and the modifiers which distinguish it.
Those modifiers can come before or after the noun.
Modifiers that come before include possessive nouns, possessive pronouns, adjectives, participles and or articles
Modifiers that come after the noun include infinitives, adjective clauses, participle phrases, and or prepositional phrases.

Articles: a cat, the man
Possessive nouns: John’s cat, the teacher’s car, the queen’s crown
Possessive pronouns: our home, her cat, their dog
Adjectives: that cat, the big cat, the spotted cat
Participles: the running kid, the crying baby, the well trained horse
Prepositional phrases: the cat in the front seat, the cat behind the door
Adjective clauses: the cat that chases rats, the boy that looks sad, the player that won the match
Participle phrases: the baby crying for her mother, the old man walked daily
Infinitives: the rat to catch, the horse to train, the kid to adopt

Prepositional Phrase:

A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and ends with: a noun, pronoun, gerund, or clause, the “object” of the preposition. Most of the time, a prepositional phrase modifies a verb or a noun.
Prepositional phrase functions as an adjective or adverb in a sentence.
As an adjective, the prepositional phrase answers the question : Which one?
As an adverb, the prepositional phrase answers the questions : How? When? or Where?

Lets see some examples of some simple prepositional phrases:

With me: With (Preposition) & Me (Pronoun)
In time: In (Preposition) & Time (Noun).
At home : At (Preposition) & Home (Noun).
From my mother : From (Preposition), My (modifier), & Mother (noun)
On the busy one-way street : On (Preposition), the Busy One-Way (modifier) & Street (noun)

Participle Phrase:

A participle phrase begins with a Present or Past Participle. (present participle – ing & past participle – ed); A participle phrase often includes objects and / or modifiers that complete the thought.


Removing his pant Rob jumped into the pool to save the puppy.
Arriving at the accident he realized it was too late.
The student scoring the highest marks will receive a big reward.
Clogged with dog hair, the water drained slowly in the pipe.
Washed with soap and water our 2 year old car appeared brand new.

Clauses in English Grammar

Clause Definition and Examples:

Clauses are groups of related words that contain a subject-verb combination. Such a group of words that forms part of a sentence, and has a Subject and a Predicate of its own, is called a Clause.
In grammar, simplest form of a clause is – A subject + A verb. Here the subject is “doing” the action and the verb is the action that subject completes. A clause creates a complete statement that can stand alone.

There could mainly be two types of Clauses within a complete sentence.
a. Independent Clause or Main Clause
b. Subordinate Clauses or Dependent Clause

a. Independent Clauses – It expresses a complete thought and can stand by themselves as complete sentences.
b. Subordinate Clauses – It serves as part of a sentence and cannot stand by themselves. They are subordinate to independent clauses.

Independent Clauses Example
-Basement was completely underwater.
-John got us jobs as librarian.

Subordinate Clauses Example 
-by the time John arrived.
-because he works at the school.

Complete sentences
-By the time John arrived, basement was completely underwater.
-John got us jobs as librarian, because he works at the school.

Some other types of Clauses those appear in a sentence are:

-Adverb Clauses

-Adjective Clauses

-Noun Clauses

Adverb Clauses Definition & Example:

A group of words which contains a Subject and a Predicate of its own, and does the work of an Adverb.

Adverb clauses meets three requirements:
i. Contains a subject and verb.
ii. A subordinate conjunction that keeps the clause from expressing a complete thought.
iii. Answers one of these four adverb questions: How? When? Where? or Why?

Joe scrubbed the bathroom floor until his arms ached.
They rested when match ended.
After her appointment at the Dentist, Marry cooked eggs for lunch because she could easily chew an omelet.
The missing eyeglasses are in the refrigerator, where Ben absentmindedly put them down while taking the ice cubes.

Adjective Clause Definition & Example:

Adjective clause are also called Adjectival clause or Relative Clause. It’s a group of words which contains a Subject and a Predicate of its own and does the work of an Adjective.
It does not express a complete thought, so it cannot stand alone as a sentence, we must connect each adjective clause to a main clause to complete a sentence.

Three requirements of an Adjective Clause:
i. it contains a subject and a verb.
ii. it begins with a relative pronoun [who, whom, whose, that, or which] or a relative adverb [when, where, or why].
iii. it functions as an adjective and answers the question -What kind? How many? or Which one?

Adjective clause patterns:
i. Relative Pronoun or Adverb + Subject + Verb
ii. Relative Pronoun as Subject + Verb

Adjective clause examples:

Chewing with his mouth open is the reason why John irritates his sister Julia on the dinning table.
Laughter came out from Marrie, who secretly drunk the whole wine but acting strange about the empty bottle.
The car which has broken windshield is mine.

Noun Clause Definition & Example:

It’s is a group of words which contains a Subject and a Predicate of its own, and does the work of a Noun.
Noun Clauses can be a subject, object, or object of a preposition in a sentence and usually start with words such as how, that, what, whatever, when, where, whether, which, whichever, who, whoever, whom, whomever, and why.