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PHRASE

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Aldrin Soriano

on 12 September 2013

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Transcript of PHRASE

A phrase is a group of related words that does not include a subject and verb. (If the group of related words does contain a subject and verb, it is considered a clause.)
Noun / Verb / Prepositional
Infinitive / Participle / Gerund
and Absolute

Kinds of Phrases
How do you recognize a phrase?
Noun phrases function as subjects, objects, and complements:
The shoplifted pair of jeans caused Nathaniel so much guilt that he couldn't wear them. (The shoplifted pair of jeans = subject.)

Jerome adopted a cat that refused to meow. (A cat that refused to meow = direct object.)

With her love of Shakespeare and knowledge of grammar, Jasmine will someday be a great English teacher. (A great English teacher = subject complement.)
the main word - modifiers -
The shoplifted pair of jeans
Pair = noun; the, shoplifted, of jeans = modifiers.

"Should have been writing"
Should, have, been = auxiliary verbs; write = main verb; ing = verb ending.

"Underneath the sagging yellow couch"
Underneath = preposition; the, sagging, yellow = modifiers; couch = noun.
Verb Phrases - Sometimes a sentence can communicate its meaning with a one-word verb. Other times, however, a sentence will use a verb phrase, a multi-word verb, to express more nuanced action or condition. A verb phrase can have up to four parts. The pattern looks like this:
optional modifier/s + noun+ optional modifier/s
auxiliary verb + main verb + verb ending whichever is necessary
Here are some examples:
Had cleaned
Had = auxiliary verb; clean = main verb; ed = verb ending.

Should have been writing
Should, have, been = auxiliary verbs; write = main verb; ing = verb ending.

Must wash
Must = auxiliary verb; wash = main verb.

Here are the verb phrases in action:

Mom had just cleaned the refrigerator shelves when Lawrence knocked over the pitcher of orange juice.

Sarah should have been writing her research essay, but she couldn't resist another short chapter in her Stephen King novel.

If guests are coming for dinner, we must wash our smelly dog!
Prepositional Phrases

At the minimum, a prepositional phrase will begin with a preposition and end with a noun, pronoun, gerund, or clause, the "object" of the preposition.

The object of the preposition will often have one or more modifiers to describe it. These are the patterns for a prepositional phrase:
preposition + noun/pronoun /gerund/
or clause

preposition + modifier + noun/pronoun /gerund/
or clause
Here are some examples:

On time
On = preposition; time = noun.

Underneath the sagging yellow couch
Underneath = preposition; the, sagging, yellow = modifiers; couch = noun.

From eating too much
From = preposition; eating = gerund; too, much = modifiers.
A prepositional phrase will function as an adjective or adverb. As an adjective, the prepositional phrase will answer the question Which one? Read these examples:

The spider above the kitchen sink has just caught a fat fly. (Which spider? The one above the kitchen sink!)

The librarian at the check-out desk smiles whenever she collects a late fee. (Which librarian? The one at the check-out desk!)
As an adverb, a prepositional phrase will answer questions such as How? When? or Where?

While sitting in the cafeteria, Jack catapulted peas with a spoon.
(How did Jack launch those peas? With a spoon!)

After breakfast, we piled the dirty dishes in the sink.
(When did we ignore the dirty dishes? After breakfast!)

Amber finally found the umbrella wedged under the passenger's front seat.
(Where did Amber locate the umbrella? Under the passenger's front seat!)
Infinitive Phrases
An infinitive phrase will begin with an infinitive [to + simple form of the verb]. It will often include objects and/or modifiers that complete the thought. The pattern looks like this:
infinitive + object/s and/or modifier
Here are some examples:

To slurp spaghetti
To send the document before the deadline
To gulp the glass of water with such thirst that streams of liquid ran down his chin and wet the front of his already sweat-soaked shirt
Infinitive phrases can function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. Look at these examples:

To avoid another lecture from Michelle on the benefits of vegetarianism was Aaron's hope for their date at a nice restaurant.
(To avoid another lecture from Michelle on the benefits of vegetarianism functions as a noun because it is the subject of the sentence.)

Cheryl plans to take microbiology next semester when Professor Crum, a pushover, is teaching the course.
(To take microbiology next semester functions as a noun because it is the direct object for the verb plans.)
The worst thing to happen during the severe thunderstorm was a lightning strike that fried Clara's computer.

To happen during the severe thunderstorm functions as an adjective because it modifies thing.

Ryan decided to mow the long grass on the front lawn to keep his neighbors from complaining to the homeowners association.

To keep his neighbors from complaining to the homeowners association functions as an adverb because it explains why Ryan mowed the lawn.
Participle Phrases

A participle phrase will begin with a present or past participle. If the participle is present, it will dependably end in ing. Likewise, a regular past participle will end in a consistent ed. Irregular past participles, unfortunately, conclude in all kinds of ways [although this list will help].

Since all phrases require two or more words, a participle phrase will often include objects and/or modifiers that complete the thought. The pattern looks like this:
participle + object and/or modifier
Here are some examples:
Flexing his muscles in front of the bathroom mirror
Ripped from a spiral-ring notebook
Driven crazy by Grandma's endless questions

Participle phrases always function as adjectives, adding description to the sentence. Read these examples:

The stock clerk lining up cartons of orange juice made sure the expiration date faced the back of the cooler.
Lining up cartons of orange juice modifies the noun clerk.
Elijah likes his eggs smothered in cheese sauce.
Gerund Phrases
A gerund phrase will begin with a gerund, an ing word, and will often include other modifiers and/or objects. The pattern looks like this:
gerund + object and/or modifiers
Gerund phrases look exactly like present participle phrases. How do you tell the difference? You must determine the function of the phrase.

Gerund phrases always function as nouns, so they will be subjects, subject complements, or objects in the sentence. Read these examples:

Washing our dog Gizmo requires strong arms to keep the squirming, unhappy puppy in the tub.

(Washing our dog Gizmo = subject of the verb requires.)
Absolute Phrases
An absolute phrase combines a noun and a participle with any accompanying modifiers or objects. The pattern looks like this:
Here are some examples:

His brow knitted in frustration
Brow = noun; knitted = participle; his, in frustration = modifiers.

Her fingers flying over the piano keys
Fingers = noun; flying = participle; her, over the piano keys = modifiers.

Our eyes following the arc of the ball
Eyes = noun; following = participle; arc = direct object; our, the, of the ball = modifiers.
noun + participle + optional modifier
and/or objects
Rather than modifying a specific word, an absolute phrase will describe the whole clause:

His brow knitted in frustration, Thomas tried again to iron a perfect crease in his dress pants.

Francine played the difficult concerto, her fingers flying over the piano keys.

We watched Leo launch a pass to his fullback, our eyes following the arc of the ball.


An appositive is a re-naming or amplification of a word that immediately precedes it. (An appositive, then is the opposite of an oppositive.) Frequently another kind of phrase will serve in apposition.
An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that renames another noun right beside it. The appositive can be a short or long combination of words. Look at 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.
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