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A phrase is a group of related words, which does not convey a complete thought and hence cannot stand as an independent sentence. It either lacks a subject, a predicate, or both.

Look at these examples

1. finishing the race (This phrase lacks a predicate)

2. will require (This phrase lacks a subject)

3. running down several steep slopes (This phrase lacks both subject and a predicate)

Let’s put together all the phrases to form a complete sentence.

Finishing the race will require running down several steep slopes.
Finishing the race (Subject)

will require (verb)

running down several steep slopes (object).


Types of Phrases

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There are several categories of phrases. We will be reviewing the following:

1. Prepositional phrase
2. Appositive phrase
3. Absolute phrase

Prepositional Phrase

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A Prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun, which is called the object of the preposition. The object may have modifiers.


1. Kate was sitting alone in the darkness
in the darkness (Prepositional phrase)

2. Do not go out without your coat.  

without your coat (Prepositional phrase)

Prepositional phrases function as either adjectives or adverbs.

Adjective Phrase:

  • A prepositional phrase that modifies a noun or pronoun is called an adjective phrase.
  • They answer the question “What kind” or “Which one”.
  • They are usually placed after the words they modify.

Adjective Phrase

Adverb Phrase:

A prepositional phrase that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb is called an adverb phrase by pointing out “When,” “Where,” “Why,” “How,” and “To what extent.”

An adverb phrase may come before or after the modified word.


Adverb Phrase

Appositive Phrase

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Appositives and appositive phrases are nouns or pronouns placed next to nouns or pronouns in order to provide additional information and details. They can modify or rename any sentence part that is acting as a noun.


Appositive Phrase

Absolute Phrase

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Absolute phrase is a group of words that modifies the entire sentence. Absolute phrases consist of a noun or pronoun, a participle and its modifiers.


1. The travelers chose to say in the lobby, the rooms being dirty.
 the rooms being dirty (Absolute phrase)

noun – the rooms
participle – being
modifier - dirty

2. Her sister gone on vacation, she was forced to play alone.

 Her sister gone on vacation (Absolute phrase)

noun – her sister
participle – gone
modifier – on vacation
More topics in Phrases
Prepositional Phrases
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