Phrases | Grammar | EnglishClub


A phrase is one or more words that form a meaningful grammatical unit within a clause. There are five main types of phrase in English, as below.

Noun Phrase

A noun phrase (NP) can be a single noun or a group of words built around a single noun, for example:

  • Animals need water.
  • Who ate the last sandwich?
  • All passengers with tickets can board now.

Verb Phrase

A verb phrase (VP, also called a “verb group”) consists of a main verb and its auxiliary verbs (including modals), for example:

  • We have been working since 9am.
  • will be going to France next week.
  • It may have been being repaired.

Adjective Phrase

An adjective phrase can be a single adjective or a group of words built around a single adjective, for example:

  • He has clever ideas.
  • It was a very big meal.
  • The students were really bored with the film.

Adverb Phrase

An adverb phrase can be a single adverb or a group of words built around a single adverb, for example:

  • Please do it now.
  • He spoke very softly.
  • They did it as fast as possible.

Prepositional Phrase

A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition followed by its object (usually a noun phrase), for example:

  • They were arguing about money.
  • The window was behind a large brown sofa.
  • They resumed after an unusually large meal.
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The table below shows all five phrase types used in a single clause:

he is jumping over the very lazy dog as fast as possible
NP VP PrepP AdvP

Contributor: Josef Essberger

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