A small group of words that gives meaning to a sentence is called as a phrase. A phrase is not a sentence as it does not express a complete thought or an idea with a subject and a verb. In other words, a phrase is two or more words, which can be a clause without subject-verb pair. A phrase can be very short and can be quite long. According to the English language, a phrase is a collection of words that acts as an element in the syntax of a sentence. It can be a clause or can contain a clause within it. 

Based on the words, a phrase can act as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb or preposition in a sentence. Keeping in mind the phrase functions and constructions, it is categorized into a noun phrase, adjective phrase, adverb phrase, verb phrase, appositive phrase, participle phrase, infinite phrase and gerund phrase.  

Phrases Definition 

A phrase refers to a small group of related words within a sentence or a clause. In simple words, a phrase is a collection of related words within a sentence, but without a subject and a verb. Any small group of words can be considered as a phrase. 

For example, A hot humid day. 

A phrase contains a group of words of different types and functions. It acts as all parts of speech, including subjects and predicates, clauses, idioms and figure of speech. On the basis of the functions of phrases, it is divided into the following types:
  • Adjective Phrase
  • Noun Phrase
  • Infinitive Phrase
  • Adverb Phrase
  • Participial Phrase 
  • Verb Phrase 
  • Prepositional Phrase 

Types of Phrases

A group of small related words is known as a phrase. Phrases are categorized into five important types as per the English language. The main word or the word that makes a phrase is called as the head. Besides this, the other words in the phrase act as a modifier that changes or modifies the head. Here, different types of phrases are explained in detail. 

1. Noun Phrase:  A noun phrase contains a noun along with other related words (modifiers and determiners). The other words usually modify the noun and come after or before the noun in a sentence. (The head word is marked in bold)

For example:

The girl with blue eyes is smiling. 
All small children are playing.

2. Adjective Phrase: An adjective phrase is a phrase that describes something about the noun. In other words, a group of adjectives is known as adjective phrase. An adjective will be the main word or the head word within the adjective phrase. (The main word is marked in bold) 

For example:

My friend’s voice is extremely sweet.
The manager is happy with my work. 

3. Verb Phrase: The verb phrase indicates the predicate in a sentence. In English, this phrase is considered very complex. The main word in a verb phrase is the verb that generally comes last in the sentence. 

For example:

John has been working for 9 hours. 
She is watching TV alone. 

4. Adverb Phrase: A group of words that acts as an adverb in a sentence is known as an adverb phrase. Apart from adverbs, an adverb phrase also contains other words such as noun, verb, preposition and modifiers. These words function like an adverb in the sentence. 

For example:

He speaks very loudly
My grandmother walks slowly

5. Prepositional Phrase: A prepositional phrase encompasses a preposition as a main word and it can acts as an adverb, adjective or noun in a sentence. Generally, a prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun. 

For example:

She is singing in a loud voice.
He lives behind the old building.

Examples of Phrases 

A phase refers to groups of words that do not describe a complete thought. Some example of phrases is listed below: 
  1. Some cupcakes baked and shaped like stars. (noun phrase) 
  2. I like the dress that you bought. (noun phrase)
  3. The boy in the blue shirt is my brother. (adjective phrase)
  4. Bella lost her yellow color wallet. (adjective phrase) 
  5. She is writing a biography. (verb phrase) 
  6. You have been watching TV for a long time. (verb phrase)
  7. I will sit in a room quietly. (adverb phrase) 
  8. She fell asleep holding her book. (adverb phrase)
  9. Near the ocean. (prepositional phrase) 
  10. Around the world. (prepositional phrase)