Phrases - Sentence Structure

Phrases are groups of words that have a particular function.  

  • This group of words does not contain a subject and a verb.
  • If the group of words does contain the subject and verb, it will be called a clause – dependent or independent. 
  • Click here to read more about clauses.


This page if all about this special part of speech that begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun.

The understanding of a preposition is integral to understanding phrases.  Click here to read more about the preposition.

The purpose of this special group of words can be either adjective (adjectival) an adverb (adverbial).  


Types of phrases

Adjective - modifying a noun

The father of my son …

  • “of my son” is a group of words that acts as an adjective.  It begins with the preposition “to” and ends with the noun “son.”  
  • It modifies or describes the noun “father.”  


The ladder in the shed…

  • “in the shed” is a group of words that acts as an adjective.  It begins with the preposition “in” and ends with the noun “shed.”  
  • It modifies or describes the noun “ladder.”


The dog with the red collar...

  • “with the red collar…” is a group of words that acts as an adjective.  It begins with the preposition “with” and ends with the noun “collar.”
  • It modifies or describes the noun “collar.”


Adverb.  The group of words that modifies the verb is an adverb.  Remember that adverbs generally answer the following questions after the verb:

  • Where?
  • When?
  • How?
  • Why?



Modifying a verb –

John ran into the barn.  

  • “into the barn” is a group of words that acts as an adverb.  It begins with the preposition “into” and ends with the noun “barn.”  
  • It modifies or describes the verb “ran.” 
  • It answers the question “where?” after the verb.  


Gene rowed the boat across the lake.

  • “across the lake” is a group of words that acts as an adverb.  It begins with the preposition “across” and ends with the noun “lake.”  
  • It modifies or describes the verb “rowed.” 
  • It answers the question “where?” after the verb.


Sally drove with her friend to the cottage.

  • “with her friend” is a group of words that acts as an adverb.  It begins with the preposition “with” and ends with the noun “friend.” 
  • It modifies or describes the verb “drove.” 
  • It answers the question “how?” after the verb.


  • “to the cottage” is a group of words that acts as an adverb.  It begins with the preposition “to” and ends with the noun “cottage.”
  • It modifies or describes the verb “drove.” 
  • It answers the question “where?” after the verb.



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