What Is a Phrase? | Definition Types and Examples

Definition of Phrase:

What Is a Phrase? | Definition Types and Examples

The phrase in simple words:

A phrase is a group of words that does not have its own subject and predicate (predicate may be a main verb or helping verb). Such a group of words makes some sense but does not give a complete sense. Actually, a phrase is a part of the sentence and helps in making the complete sentence with complete sense.


A man of parts.

A man of worth.

In the corner.

On the hill.

On my success.

At the bus stop.

By using all the above phrases to make complete sentences.

He is a man of parts.

Ali is a man of worth.

They sat in the corner.

The eagle was on the hill.

My father was very happy on my success.

I received him at the bus stop.

What Is a Phrase? Definition Types and Examples

Kinds of Phrases

There are eight kinds of phrase. 

1. Adjective Phrase:

When a group of words without having subject and predicate does the work of an adjective, called Adjective Phrase. It must consist of multiple words. We can make an adjective phrase from an adjective by adding one or more words.


a nobleman, of great nobility, with blue eyes.

In the above examples noble, nobility and blue are adjectives and after adding words with each adjective make adjective phrases.

Let us learn adjective and adjective phrase which are equal and how we can derive adjective phrase from the adjective. Remember underlined words are just adjectives in the Adjective column whereas underlined words in the Adjective Phrase column are adjective phrases.

       Adjectives                Adjective Phrases
 A smiling face A face with a smile on it.
 The longest day The day of great length.
 A kind man A man with kind nature.
 A purple shirtA shirt of purple color
 A blue-eyed boy A boy with blue eyes.
  A white elephant An elephant with a white skin.

2. Adverb Phrase:

When a group of words without having its subject and predicate do the job of an adverb, called adverb phrase.

(Adverb: When we modify adjective by adding ly at the end of the adjective, time, place, and manner then it is called an adverb.)


With great speed, In a hurried manner, At this moment, In no time, Before long

Before proceeding further, let us take a look at adverb simply.

Ali ran speedily. (Adverb by Quality)

He is busy now. (Adverb by time)

They will reach here soon. (Adverb by time)

You can see greenery everywhere. (Adverb by place)

Let us study the Adverb and Adverb Phrases which are equal to them and we will, ultimately, learn how to make Adverb Phrase from Adverb.

 Adverbs Adverb Phrases
 HastilyIn a hasty manner 
 BeautifullyIn a beautiful style 
 FoolishlyIn a foolish manner 
Now At this moment 
Swiftly In a swift manner 
Abroad In a foreign country 
 RecentlyJust now / At a recent date 

Examples of Adverbs to Adverb Phrases by its types:

Adverb TypesAdverbsAdverb Phrases
    MANNER  bravely                      carefully                    carelessly                  quickly                      cleverly                      beautifully                         in a brave manner      with great care          without any care        with great speed         in a clever manner    in a beautiful style       
    PLACE    here                            there                          away                          abroad                    everywhere  at this place                at that place                at another place          in a foreign country    at all places
    TIME  now                          then                            soon                            formerly                    recently  at this very moment  at that moment          at an early date          once upon a time      at a recent date

Position of Adverb Phrase:

When there are two or more Adverbs or Adverb Phrases after a verb, the normal or general order will be as:



They sang sweetly at the concert yesterday.
Manner       Place                 Time


An adverb phrase includes some adverbs with prepositions called adverbials.


To my great profit.

At any cost.

In the long run.

3.Noun Phrase:

A noun phrase is a group of words that acts as a noun. It may be a subject or object/complement of a verb.


1.Bird’s eye view

2.At sixes and sevens

3.Kith and Kin

4.Without rhyme or reason

5.To learn driving

6.Ups and downs

7.Wear and tear

8.Part and parcel

Learn how the above phrases can be turned into sentences.

1.We have a bird’s eye view of the city from the tower.

2.Everything in the room was at sixes and sevens.

3.We should be kind to our kith and kin.

4.He left his services without rhyme or reason.

5.He wants to learn driving.

6.We should learn from ups and downs of life.

7.Wear and tears of roads causes problems.

8.Mobile phone is a part and parcel of modern life.

4.Prepositional  Phrase:

A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition followed by a prepositional complement which is characteristically a noun phrase or a WH-Clause or V-ing Clause.

 PrepositionPrepositional Complement 
 At the railway station
From what he said 
By singing a song 

A Few Prepositional Phrases Are:

According to, along with, away from, because of, in favor of, in spite of, instead of, in order to, in place of, on account of, with a view to, with regard to, at the bottom of, at home in, by dint of, in case of etc.

5. Phrase in Apposition:

(Explanatory Words)

If we join two sentences with the help of “Defining Clause”, it is called Phrase in Apposition. Normally, the position of this phrase occurs in the middle of the sentences and sometimes at the end also.


1.Columbus was the founder of America.  He was a popular person.

Columbus, the founder of America was a popular person.

2.William Wordsworth is a romantic poet. He wrote several poems on nature.

William Wordsworth, the romantic poet wrote several poems.

In sentence 1, Columbus and the founder of America have the same meanings.

In sentence 2, William Wordsworth and romantic poet have the same meanings.

So, the founder of America and the romantic poet both are in the middle of their respective sentences and also explain Columbus and William Wordsworth respectively, therefore both these groups are Phrase in Apposition.

6. Absolute Phrase:

Groups of words of interdependence with the separate subjects and without finite verbs are called Absolute Phrase.


1.It was a holiday. We went out for a holiday.

It being a holiday, we went out for a holiday.

2.The soldiers arrived. The people dispersed.

The soldiers having arrived, the people dispersed. 

In the above sentences, It being a holiday and  The soldiers having arrived depends upon the actual parts of the sentences therefore, they are Absolute or Nominative Phrases.

You may  also learn:

Parts and Kinds of Sentence/Speech

Idioms and Phrases with Meanings and Examples

Adverbs and Its Kinds

Future Continuous Tense

Introduction to Direct Indirect Speech and Basic Changes

Letter Writing In English

Noun and Its Types

Direct and Indirect Speech

Pronouns and Its Kinds

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