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What is a phrase?

Grammar Worksheets | 7-14 yrs | Interactive

Definition of phrase in English

A group of words that do not use a subject or a predicate to communicate a thought and is used as part of a clause. A phrase is used as a mode of expression and is always incomplete on its own.

Identify the phrase


It was a very bright, sunny day.
It was a very
bright, sunny day.
Answer: Phrase

He was walking on the cool, wet grass.
He was walking on the
cool, wet grass.
Answer: Phrase

The tower has steep and high steps
The tower has steep and high steps
Answer: Phrase

9 Types of phrases

Phrase have been classified into 9 types.

1. Noun Phrase

This type of phrase acts like a noun in a sentence.
She has a very nice smile
Answer: Noun Phrase
He has made a very comfortable life for himself.
Answer : Noun Phrase

2. Prepositional Phrase

This type of phrase uses an object of preposition (noun or pronoun) and a preposition. It uses words like before, after, near, on, above, at, in a, etc.
The cat with him is an expensive pedigree.
Answer: Prepositional Phrase
There are several rare plants by the river.
Answer: Prepositional Phrase

3. Adjective Phrase

This type of phrase acts like an adjective in a sentence. It modifies a noun or a pronoun.
The unicorn has a beautiful blue tail.
Answer: Adjective Phrase
The girl from my town won a scholarship.
Answer: Answer : Adjective Phrase

4. Adverb Phrase

This type of phrase acts like an adverb in a sentence. It modifies a verb, adverb or an adjective. It has words like how, when, where or why.
It’s funny how quickly time passed.
Answer: Answer : Adverb Phrase
He worked from home for a few hours.
Answer: Answer : Adverb Phrase

5. Verb Phrase

This type of phrase has a verb with another helping verb. It uses words like am, is, are, was, were, being, may, might etc.
He may need some help with his homework.
Answer: Answer : Verb Phrase
She did do what she had set out to do.
Answer: Answer : Verb Phase

6. Infinitive Phrase

These type of phrase uses an infinitive which acts like a noun, an adjective or an adverb.
He lives to please others.
Answer: Answer : Infinitive Phrase
I have a desire to drive a car.
Answer: Infinitive Phrase

7. Gerund Phrase

This type of phrase uses a gerund to complete a thought. The gerund phrase functions like a noun.
The cawing crows were such a nuisance.
Answer: Gerund Phrase
We had lots of fun trying to cook outdoors.
Answer: Gerund Phrase

8. Participle Phrase

This type of phrase uses either present participle or past participle verb and acts like an adjective. It uses a comma or commas to punctuate in a sentence.
The young mother, raising her kids, needs extra support.
Answer: Answer : Participle Phrase
The sky, turning a pale shade of pink, was a sight to behold.
Answer: Answer : Participle Phrase

9. Absolute Phrase

This type of phrase is called a nominative phrase. It uses a noun, a pronoun or a participle and tells more about the sentence. It looks like a clause, but doesn’t have a true finite verb. It is separated by a comma in a sentence.
The storm having left, the city calmed down.
Answer: Answer : Absolute Phrase
After the sun had risen, the boys set out on their trek uphill.
Answer: Answer : Absolute Phrase

Try this fun exercise and identify the types of phrase.

He was walking in the forest and came across a small hut made of spun sugar. The house was pink and yellow. He told himself, this must be the hidden kingdom of fairies. He heard hushed laughter. The laugh sounded like that of a fairy. He looked around to a see small fairy playing with the caterpillar. The caterpillar was sad. It was time for him to go into his cocoon. The fairy teased him and said he would come out looking ugly. No one was as pretty as the fairy. The boy walked closer to the fairy. The fairy and the caterpillar disappeared.

  • was walking (Answer : Gerund Phrase)
  • made of spun sugar (Answer : Adjective Phrase)
  • must be (Answer : Verb Phrase)
  • hushed laughter (Answer : Noun Phrase)
  • looked around (Answer : Verb Phrase)
  • playing with the caterpillar (Answer : Participle Phrase)
  • to go (Answer : Absolute Phrase)
  • come out looking ugly (Answer : Prepositional Phrase)
  • pretty as a fairy (Answer : Adjective Phrase)