A phrase may be two or more words that together make up a part of a sentence. It makes no sense outside the sentence as it does not have a finite verb. A phrase may also function as a noun, an adjective, an adverb or as a preposition with an object noun. Let us read on to understand about the kinds of phrases that make up a sentence.

The dull grey curtainsWas battering
The powerful rainWas bought
The curly haired babyAre being blown
A carved Silver kettleWas smiling
Chewing the rattleBy the wind
Of my bedroomOn the rooftop
During the nightAt everyone
On the shelfBy his mother
Some Phrases

The finite verb is usually the main verb of a sentence. It is the verb that changes form to show tense and changes with the number of the subject.

For example:

■  Mona enjoys driving.

■  We enjoy driving in the hills.

■  The family enjoyed driving.


A noun phrase is made up of a head noun or pronoun and other modifiers before or after it. It acts as the subject or the object of the verb.

For example:

■  My new pair of jeans is very comfortable.

(Noun phrase my new pair of Jeans, with the head noun Jeans, functioning as the subject noun in the sentence)

■  We have adopted a small black puppy.

(Noun phrase a small black puppy, with the head noun puppy, functioning the object noun in the sentence)


An adjective phrase is a group of words that functions as an adjective and modifies a noun, a noun phrase or a pronoun in a sentence. It has a head adjective that is modified by other words. These other words may be determiners (e.g. I have a few fresh oranges.) and adverbs before or after the head adjective (e.g. He is very happy.), or word phrases after it (e.g. She is afraid of that room.).

Also, an adjective phrase may have more than one head adjective.

For example:

■  We placed an order for some cheesy pizzas.

(Adjective phrase some cheesy, with the head adjective some, modifying the noun pizzas)

■  He was thin, tall and grumpy.

(Adjective phrase tall, thin and grumpy, with head adjectives thin, tall and grumpy modifying the pronoun he)

■  The documentary film was terribly boring.

(Adjective phrase terribly boring, with the head adjective boring, modifying the noun phrase the document.)


A verb may appear alone in a sentence, or it may be a main verb along with any modal and / or auxiliary (helping) verbs. The main verb is always placed last in the verb phrase.

For example:

■  We can decide today itself about the posting.

(Verb phrase can decide with the modal verb can and the main verb decide)

■  They would have cleared the traffic by now.

(Verb phrase would have cleared with the modal verb would, the auxiliary verb have and the main verb cleared)

■  They have been listening to music since evening.

(Verb phrase have been listening with the auxiliary verbs have been and the main verb listening)


An adverb phrase is a group of words that acts as an adverb and modifies the verb in a sentence. The head of an adverb phrase is an adverb that is modified by other words before or after it. An adverb phrase may give information about the manner, place, time, duration, frequency and degree of the verb.

For example:

■  The audience sang very enthusiastically with the choir.

(Adverb phrase of manner, with the head adverb enthusiastically, modifying the verb sang)

■  This classical dancer performs very often in this club.

(Adverb phrase of frequency, with the head adverb often, modifying the verb performs)

■  Nurul painted the wall with great care.

(Adverb phrase of manner, which works like the adverb carefully, modifying the verb painted)

■  Nilofer had planted the sapling at this spot.

(Adverb phrase of place, which works like the adverb here, modifying the verb had planted)


A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition and is followed by a noun phrase, an adjective or an adjective phrase, or an adverb or an adverb phrase.

A prepositional phrase may be a part of the noun phrase, or it may function as an adjective or an adverb in a sentence.

For example:

■  There was a big pothole on the main road.

 (Prepositional phrase beginning with the preposition on followed by the noun phrase the main road)

■  I travelled by bus from there.

 (Prepositional phrase beginning with the preposition from followed by the adverb there, functioning as an adverb phrase of place)

■  The house at the end of the street is haunted.

(Prepositional phrase at the end of the street, part of the noun phrase the house at the end of the street)

■  She talked to everyone in a pleasing way.

(Prepositional phrase in a pleasing way functioning like the adverb pleasantly to modify the verb talked.)

■  The park by the river is very crowded in the morning.

(Prepositional phrase by the river functioning like an adjective to modify the subject noun park.)


The noun phrase, the adjective phrase and the adverb phrase, each have their head noun, head adjective or head adverb, respectively, which can appear alone or with other modifiers.

For example:

■  These soft and chewy candies are called marshmallows.

(The modifiers soft and chewy, when deleted, do not affect the meaning.)

The preposition in the prepositional phrase always needs to be followed by a noun with or without modifiers.