A phrase is a group of two or more grammatically linked words without a subject or predicate. However, a group of grammatically linked words with a subject and predicate is called a clause.
The word group teacher both students and is not a phrase because the words have no grammatical relationship to one another. Similarly, bay the across is not a phrase. In both cases, the words need to be rearranged in order to create phrases. The word groups both teachers and students and across the bay are both phrases.
Phrases add information to sentences and may function as subjects, objects, subject complements or object complements, verbs, adjectives or adverbs.
The highlighted words in each of the following sentences make up a phrase:
- Joe bought some spinach when he went to the corner store.
- Lightning flashed brightly in the night sky.
- They heard high-pitched cries in the middle of the night.
- In early October, Giselle planted twenty tulip bulbs; unfortunately, squirrels ate the bulbs and none bloomed.
- Small children often insist that they can do things by themselves.
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© Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Ottawa
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