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Unit 3: Phrase and Clause

Phrase---group of words that works as a single part of speech that does Not contain both a subject and a verb.

  1. Prepositional Phrase----- (starts) preposition--------- (ends) Noun/Pronoun
All prepositional phrases and be adjective or adverb
Adjective---Which one? What kind?
  • Carlos is a talented painter of landscapes. (The prepositional phrase of landscapes modifies the noun painter, telling what kind of painter)
  • Mrs. O'Meara is the one on the left. (The prepositional phrase on the left modifies the pronoun one, telling which one Mrs. O'Meara is)

Adverb--How? When? Where? Why? To what extent? How long? How many? How much? How far?
  • The snow fell throughout the day. (The phrase modifies the verb fell, telling when the snow fell.)
  • Ms. Downing has taught school for five years. (The phrase modifies the verb has taught, telling how long Ms. Downing has been teaching.)
  • Sarah speaks French well for a beginner. (The phrase modifies the adverb well, telling to what extent Sarah speaks French.)



Appositive Phrase: group of words that is made up of nouns/pronouns and any modifiers that is placed beside another noun/pronoun to identify it or describe it.

Ex. Lucy Grant, my longtime friend from my old neighborhood, has a new Scottish terrier.

Ex. Dr. Jackson has a degree in entomology, the scientific study of insects.

Ex. The terror of our block, little Anthony was on the warpath.

Sometimes an appositive phrase can be set off using commas; however, it is not always necessary.

Ex. My teacher, Mr. Smith, trains parrots.
Ex. My teacher Mr. Smith trains parrots.

In the first sentence, the writer has only one teacher which makes the phrase non-essential. If the phrase is non-essential, it is set off by commas meaning that it can come out of the sentence. In the second sentence, the writer has more than one teacher. In the second sentence, the name of the teacher is essential to the meaning of the sentence. The phrase must remain in the sentence to keep the same meaning for the reader; therefore, it is not set off by commas. Both are still appositive phrases.



Verbal Phrase--Verbals are formed using verbs. However, these verbs are used in the sentence as a different part of speech.

Participial Phrase: a group of words that is a verb used in a sentence as an adjective.

2 Forms
Present--end in -ing
Past--end in -d or -ed (note: irregular verbs do not always follow this pattern ex. spoke----spoken, not spoked/spokd)

Ex. Seeing itself in the mirror, the duck seemed quite bewildererd.
  • The participial phrase modifies the noun duck.

Ex. After a while, we heard the duck quaking noisily at its own image.
  • The participial phrase modifies the noun duck.

Ex. Then, disgusted with the other duck, it pecked the mirror.
  • The participial phrase modifies the pronoun it.

Note: All participial phrases can come out of a sentence because they work like adjectives.


Gerund: group of words that is a verb that works in the sentence as a noun.

All gerunds have an -ing ending and have a function/job in the sentence.

  • Skiing down that slope was fun.
Subject of the sentence.
  • Dad's favorite pastime is fishing for trout and bass.
Predicate Nominative of the sentence.
  • Give sailing a try.
Indirect Object of the sentence.
  • We enjoyed hiking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Direct Object of the sentence.
  • Please sweep the front sidewalk after mowing.

Object of the preposition in the sentence.


Infinitive Phrase: group of words in the sentence that is a verb that is used as a noun, adjective, or an adverb.
to + a verb
Ex. The crowd grew quiet to hear the speaker.