Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Types of Phrases

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Types of Phrases

Have you ever wondered why we use particular words to communicate things and how we make them make sense?

Grammar refers to the structure of a language, particularly how words are put together in different ways to express meaning. Words don't stand alone; they are combined to form phrases (then clauses and then sentences).

Types of phrases Image of the word grammar StudySmarterTypes of phrases are an important part of English grammar - Pixabay

Types of phrases in grammar

A phrase is a group of words that form what the dictionary calls 'a conceptual unit' (an idea contained in a few words). Phrases normally form parts of clauses. A phrase is not a sentence on its own. phrases do not make sense on their own as they do not have a subject and predicate.

What are the different types of phrases?

Some different types of grammatical phrases are as follows:

It is helpful to remember that phrases can include other phrases within them. There can also be more than one of the same phrases in a single sentence.

Let's take a closer look at each of these phrase types. But, before we do that, and in case you need a reminder…

A noun = a word that is used to name something, such as an object, place, person, idea etc. For example, ‘desk’, ‘city’, ‘woman’, ‘love’.

An adjective = a word that describes a noun or pronoun. For example, in the sentence “the cat is grey”, the adjective is ‘grey’ and it is used to describe the noun (the cat).

A verb = a word that describes an action or state. For example, in the sentence “the teacher writes on the board” the verb is ‘writes’ as it indicates the action. In the sentence “the ball is rolling down the hill”, the auxiliary verb ‘is’ indicates the tense of the sentence, and the main verb ‘rolling’ expresses the action.

An adverb = a word that describes a verb, adjective, another adverb or a whole sentence. For example, in the sentence “she walks slowly” the adverb is ‘slowly’ as it adds information about the verb. In the sentence “he is really tall”, the adverb is ‘really’ as it adds information about the adjective.

A preposition = a word or group of words that indicate where things are in relation to one another. This can refer to direction, time, location and spatial relationships. For example, words like ‘on’, ‘in’, ‘under’, ‘over’, ‘before’, ‘after’.

Okay, let's continue...

Noun phrase

A noun phrase is a group of words that consists of a noun (or pronoun eg. he, she, it) and other words that modify the noun. Modifiers can refer to articles (a/an/the), quantifiers (some, a lot, a little), demonstratives (this, that, those), possessives (his, her, their), adjectives or adverbs. Noun phrases are used to give more information about a noun. They can function as the subject, object or complement of a sentence.

Noun phrase examples

Here are some examples of noun phrases.

In the sentence:

“Your black cat is always outside.”

The noun phrase is

Your black cat.”

It is used to add detail to the sentence, by indicating the subject (cat) and describing it (a cat that is black and belongs to someone).

In the sentence:

“I saw a scary movie at midnight.”

The noun phrase is:

A scary movie.”

It is used to indicate the object of the sentence (a movie) and provide a description of it (scary).

It has been argued that a noun phrase CAN consist of only one word, which would be either a noun or pronoun.

Beth is walking home from school”.

Here, Beth is the only noun in the sentence, so it can be considered a one-word noun phrase.

Adjective phrase

An adjective phrase (also known as an adjectival phrase) is a group of words that consists of an adjective and other words that modify or complement it. Adjective phrases have the purpose of an adjective and are used to describe or add more detail to a noun/pronoun. They can come before or after a noun.

Adjective phrase examples

Here are some examples of adjective phrases.

In the sentence

“The man with short hair is running in the park.”

The adjective phrase is

Short hair.

It appears after the noun and is used to provide more detail about the noun (the man).

In the sentence:

“I ate some sugar-coated

doughnuts.”

The adjective phrase is:

Sugar-coated.

It appears before the noun and is used to provide more information about the noun (doughnut) - it describes what they were like (sugar-coated).

Adverb phrase

An adverb phrase (also known as an adverbial phrase) is a group of words that consists of an adverb and often other modifiers. They have the function of an adverb in a sentence and are used to modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. They can appear before or after the elements they modify.

Adverb phrase examples

Here are some examples of adverb phrases.

In the sentence:

“I go to the gym every weekend.”

The adverb phrase is:

Every weekend.

It gives more information about how often the action takes place.

In the sentence:

“He very carefully lifted the trophy.”

The adverb phrase is:

Very carefully.

It gives more detail about how the action (lifted) is carried out.

Verb phrase

A verb phrase is a group of words that consists of a head (main) verb and other verbs such as copular verbs (verbs that join the subject to the subject complement ie., seems, appears, tastes) and auxiliaries (helping verbs ie., be, do, have). It can also include other modifiers. A verb phrase has the function of a verb in a sentence.

Verb phrase examples

Here are some examples of verb phrases.

In the sentence:

“Dave was walking his dog.”

The verb phrase is:

Was walking.

It consists of the auxiliary verb ‘was’, which indicates the tense of the sentence, and the main verb ‘walking’, which indicates the action.

In the sentence:

“She will go to the party tonight.”

The verb phrase is:

Will go.

It consists of the modal verb ‘will’, which indicates a degree of certainty, and the main verb ‘go’ which indicates the future action.

Types of phrases Image of woman at a party StudysmarterShe will go to the party - Pixabay

Prepositional phrase

A prepositional phrase is a group of words that consists of a preposition and an object. It can also include other modifiers, but these are not essential. A prepositional phrase can either act as an adjective or adverb in a sentence. It is used to modify nouns and verbs and gives information about the relationships between subjects and verbs.

Prepositional phrase examples

Here are some examples of prepositional phrases.

In the sentence:

“The rat runs into the box.”

The prepositional phrase is:

Into the box.”

It gives information about where the subject (the rat) goes.

In the sentence:

“The cut on my leg is painful.”

The prepositional phrase is:

On my leg.”

It gives information about where the subject (the cut) is situated.

Types of Phrases - Key takeaways

  • A phrase is a group of words that add meaning to a sentence. Different types of phrases include: noun phrase, adjective phrase, adverb phrase, verb phrase and prepositional phrase.
  • A noun phrase is a group of words that consists of a noun (or pronoun) and other words that modify the noun. It adds information about the noun.
  • An adjective phrase is a group of words that consists of an adjective and other words that modify or complement it. It is used to add detail to a noun.
  • An adverb phrase is a group of words that consists of an adverb and often its modifiers. It functions as an adverb in a sentence, with the purpose of modifying verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.
  • A verb phrase is a group of words that consists of a main verb and other verbs (such as copulas and auxiliaries). It can also include other modifiers.
  • A prepositional phrase is a group of words that acts as either an adjective or adverb in a sentence. It consists of a preposition and an object, and can also include other modifiers.

Frequently Asked Questions about Types of Phrases

The different types of phrases are: noun phrase, adjective phrase, adverb phrase, verb phrase and prepositional phrase.

The two main types of prepositional phrases are: adjective prepositional phrases and adverb prepositional phrases.

A phrase is part of a clause and cannot make sense on its own as it doesn't have a subject and predicate. A clause has a subject and predicate, and can sometimes make sense on its own (independent clause).

An example of a type of phrase is a noun phrase. A noun phrase is a group of words that contains a noun and any modifiers, such as quantifiers, articles, demonstrations, and possessives. An example of a noun phrase is, 'your black cat'.

Final Types of Phrases Quiz

Question

What are adjective phrases?

Show answer

Answer

A group of words that function as an adjective in a sentence.

Show question

Question

How can you identify an adjective phrase?


Show answer

Answer

Find a group of words used to describe a noun or pronoun.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is an adjective phrase?


Show answer

Answer

We are expecting rainy days.

Show question

Question

Find the words in the sentence that are adjective phrases: "The rich, sweet cake made me satisfied."

Show answer

Answer

Rich, sweet.

Show question

Question

Find the words in the sentence that are adjective phrases: "It was an exciting and thrilling journey".


Show answer

Answer

Exciting, thrilling.

Show question

Question

Find the words in the sentence that are adjective phrases: "The aggressive and cold manner he displayed made me scared."


Show answer

Answer

Aggressive, cold.

Show question

Question

Find the words in the sentence that are adjective phrases: "The hotel had small but luxurious rooms".


Show answer

Answer

Small, luxurious.

Show question

Question

Find the words in the sentence that are adjective phrases. "The tired and exhausted worker took a long break."


Show answer

Answer

Tired, exhausted.

Show question

Question

True or false: An adjective phrase can appear anywhere in a sentence.


Show answer

Answer

False. An adjective phrase can only appear before or after a noun.

Show question

Question

True or false: The head adjective in an adjective phrase modifies a noun.


Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

What is a verb phrase composed of?

Show answer

Answer

A verb phrase is composed of a main verb and at least one auxiliary verb.

Show question

Question

What is an auxiliary verb?


Show answer

Answer

A part of a verb phrase that joins the subject to the rest of the sentence.

Show question

Question

What are the common forms of auxiliary verbs?


Show answer

Answer

The common forms are 'To be', 'To have' and 'To do'.

Show question

Question

True or False? A verb phrase can only have one auxiliary verb.


Show answer

Answer

False. A verb phrase can have up to three auxiliary verbs.

Show question

Question

True or False? The verb 'dancing' expresses a progressive tense.


Show answer

Answer

True. Verbs ending with '-ing' express a continuous or ongoing action, which is the progressive tense.

Show question

Question

True or False? The verb phrase 'I am not doing this.' is interrogative. 


Show answer

Answer

False. The verb phrase is negative, this is because the phrase 'am ... doing' is separated by the interrupter 'not'.

Show question

Question

True or False? The verbs 'do, did' are used for emphasis.


Show answer

Answer

True. The use of these verbs adds emphasis to verb phrases.

Show question

Question

True or False? The verb phrase 'Has he completed the task?' is negative.


Show answer

Answer

False. The verb phrase is interrogative.

Show question

Question

What tense does the verb 'am' indicate?


Show answer

Answer

It indicates the present tense.

Show question

Question

What tense does the verb 'was' indicate?


Show answer

Answer

It indicates the past tense.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is a verb phrase?


Show answer

Answer

 I have written a letter for you.

Show question

Question

True or false? All prepositional phrases are adjectival.

Show answer

Answer

 False, prepositional phrases can be adjectival or adverbial

Show question

Question

True or false? All prepositions come in the middle of a sentence.

Show answer

Answer

False, prepositions can come at any part of the sentence.

Show question

Question

True or false? You can have more than one preposition phrase in one sentence. 


Show answer

Answer

 True.

Show question

Question

Where can you find prepositional phrases used? 


Show answer

Answer

In everyday phrases as well as in literature.

Show question

Question

What do all prepositional phrases consist of? 


Show answer

Answer

 A preposition and an object.

Show question

Question

What kind of information can prepositional phrases give us? 


Show answer

Answer

Direction and place or time information.

Show question

Question

 What kind of information would the preposition “underneath” give?


Show answer

Answer

Direction and place.

Show question

Question

What kind of information would the preposition “during” give?


Show answer

Answer

Time.

Show question

Question

 Which is the correct term: preposition specialists or preposition specifiers?


Show answer

Answer

 Preposition specifiers.

Show question

Question

Why is it often good to not use too many prepositional phrases in one sentence? 


Show answer

Answer

To increase the clarity and readability of your writing.

Show question

Question

Which of these is a preposition:    
A. Walk   
B. On  
C. Fun


Show answer

Answer

 B. On.

Show question

Question

What is a conjunction phrase?


Show answer

Answer

A conjunction phrases' role is to link together words, phrases, clauses and sentences.

Show question

Question

True or false? You always need a comma after a prepositional phrase.


Show answer

Answer

 False. Sometimes a comma is necessary, depending on the length of the phrase and the overall sentence flow.

Show question

Question

 Is there a cross over between words used in conjunctional and prepositional phrases? 


Show answer

Answer

 Yes there is, but they function differently.

Show question

Question

What are some examples of when keeping prepositional phrases simple in your writing is important?


Show answer

Answer

Writing emails and texts or filling out job applications.

Show question

Question

What are noun phrases?

Show answer

Answer

Noun phrases consist of two or more words that function as a noun. They include the head noun and its modifiers.

Show question

Question

How would you identify a noun phrase?

Show answer

Answer

 You need to identify the head noun first. The modifiers will always be around it.

Show question

Question

What is an expanded noun phrase?


Show answer

Answer

An expanded noun phrase is made up of the head noun and one or more modifiers. They tend to be longer and more descriptive.

Show question

Question

How can you use pronouns to identify a noun phrase?


Show answer

Answer

Try replacing the noun phrase with a pronoun. If the sentence still makes sense then this is probably a noun phrase.

Show question

Question

Which of these is not a noun phrase? 'a brown dog', 'with animosity', 'a majestic evening'.


Show answer

Answer

'With animosity' is an adverbial phrase.

Show question

Question

What are modifiers?


Show answer

Answer

 Modifiers are words such as articles, adjectives and prepositions which add detail to the head noun.

Show question

Question

What is the difference between premodifiers and postmodifiers?


Show answer

Answer

Premodifiers are placed before the noun and postmodifiers after the noun.

Show question

Question

Which of these is a premodifier? 'My', 'which', and 'nearby'?


Show answer

Answer

 'My' and 'which' are premodifiers.

Show question

Question

What is the difference between complements and postmodifiers?


Show answer

Answer

 Complements are necessary to complete the meaning of a sentence but general postmodifiers are not.

Show question

Question

What position do general postmodifiers usually take?


Show answer

Answer

General postmodifiers usually come after any complement.

Show question

Question

What are the uses of a noun phrase in a sentence?


Show answer

Answer

A noun phrase can act as the subject, object or complement of a sentence.

Show question

Question

'The red cup smashed onto the floor.' What is the use of the noun phrase in the sentence?


Show answer

Answer

'The red cup' is the noun phrase and is acting as the subject.

Show question

Question

'The government rejected a black box approach to solving crime'. What is the use of the noun phrase in the sentence?


Show answer

Answer

 'A black box approach' is the expanded noun phrase and acts as the complement.

Show question

Question

 'They picked up the new parcel' What is the use of the noun phrase in the sentence?


Show answer

Answer

'The new parcel' is the noun phrase and acts as the object.

Show question

More about Types of Phrases
60%

of the users don't pass the Types of Phrases quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.