Types of Phrases

Phrase, as mentioned previously is the combination of words giving no meaning. Remember, only full composition unit is meaningful, not a half one. In this sense Sentence is the full unit and Clause and Phrase is the half. Even one word is not giving complete meaning, e.g. horse is one word and doesn’t give complete meaning. If I just say horse what can anyone understand from just the word horse until it is meaningfully combined together.

Phrases are of six kinds.

  1. Noun Phrase
  2. Verb Phrase
  3. Adjective Phrase
  4. Adverb Phrase
  5. Prepositional Phrase
  6. Possessive Phrase

These phrases are discussed in a detail. First of all it is important to know what is head and dependent.

Head and Dependent
Head is the most important word of the phrase to which the phrase is named, and dependent are the least important word(s). Heads are as follows.

  1. Noun Phrase (Noun is head)
  2. Verb Phrase (Verb is head)
  3. Adjective Phrase (Adjective is head)
  4. Adverb Phrase (Adverb is head)
  5. Prepositional Phrase (Preposition is head)
  6. Possessive Phrase (Possessive expression is head)

Note: Possessive expression is apostrophe S. Like, boy’s book

Noun Phrase
Noun Phrase is the combination of words which of course doesn’t give complete meaning and having Noun as the most important word. Hence Noun is the head and the rest of the words are its dependents. Usually the dependents of the noun in the Noun Phrase (NP) are adjectives, articles, demonstratives, degree modifiers and prepositions etc. Their individual examples are as follows.

Examples

  1. The cup (article as dependent)
  2. His pen (pronoun as dependent)
  3. Beautiful landscape (adjective as dependent)
  4. Those boys (demonstratives as dependent)
  5. Most intelligent boy (adjective and degree modifier as dependent)
  6. The most important thing (article, degree modifier and adjective as dependent)

Verb Phrase
Sentence is made of Subject and Predicate. Subject is usually Noun Phrase whereas Predicate is Verb Phrase. All words that come under the Verb Phrase are its dependents. Verb Phrase is the less meaningful combination of words in which verb is the head. The dependents of Verb are; article, noun, pronoun, demonstrative, adjective, Noun Phrase, Prepositional Phrase etc.

Examples

  1. Grazing in the field. [Preposition (in), Article (the), Noun (field),
    Prepositional Phrase (in the field), Noun Phrase (and the field) all are the dependents of Grazing which is verb]

  2. Bringing his book. [Pronoun (his), Noun (book), Noun Phrase (his book) all are the dependents of Bringing which is verb]

  3. Testing an honest man [article (an), adjective (honest), noun (man), Noun Phrase (an honest man) all are the dependents of Testing which is verb]

Adjective Phrase
Adjective Phrase is the less meaningful combination of words in which adjective is the head. The dependents of Adjective Phrase are degree modifier (more, most, much etc) and article.

Examples

  1. The most amazing [article (the) and degree modifier (most) are the dependents of Adjective.

Adverb Phrase
Adverb Phrase is the less meaningful combination of words in which adverb is the head. The dependents of Adverb Phrase are degree modifier (more, most, much etc) and article, just like Adjective.

Examples

  1. The most effectively [article (the) and degree modifier (most) are the dependents of effectively which is Adverb.

Prepositional Phrase
Prepositional Phrase (PP) is the less meaningful combination of words in which preposition is the head. Dependents of Preposition are noun, pronoun, article, Noun Phrase.

Examples

  1. In the market [article (the), noun (market) and Noun Phrase (the market) are the dependents of the word in which is the Preposition]
  2. In his office [preposition (his), noun (office) and Noun Phrase (his office) are the dependents of in which is Preposition]

Possessive Phrase
Possessive Phrase is the phrase in which Possessive Expression is the head and rests are its dependents. Remember apostrophe S is the Possessive Expression. It drives attention that is why it is the head. Examples are as under.

Examples

  1. King of Spain’s daughter [the bold part is the Possessive Phrase. Noun (king and Spain), preposition (of) and the Noun Phrase (King of Spain) are the dependents of Possessive Expression’s]

Note: King of Spain’s daughter too is the Noun Phrase. It means phrases are mixed together.