Understanding Phrase And Clause


Phrase and clause are the most important elements of English grammar. Phrase and clause cover everything a sentence has. Clauses are the center of sentences and phrases strengthen the sentences to become meaningful. If the clauses are the pillars of a building, the phrases are the bricks. A phrase usually is always present within a clause, but a phrase cannot have a clause in it.

A phrase, therefore, is a group of words which has no finite verb in it and acts to complete the sentence for making it meaningful.

A verb is finite when it:

1. agrees with the subject in person or number, e.g., 

Ade goes to the farm every day.

They go to the farm every day.

Go/goes is finite because there is a subject-verb agreement. 

2. shows tense

Ade sings well. 

They sing well. (Present tense)

Ade sang well. (Past)

Ade is singing well. (Present Cont.)

Types of Phrases

The phrases are generally of six types.

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Noun Phrase

Adjective Phrase

Adverbial Phrase

Prepositional Phrase

Conjunctional Phrase

Interjectional Phrase


A Phrase that acts as a noun in the sentence is called a Noun Phrase. It contains a noun and other associated words (usually determiner and modifiers) which modify a noun. 

A noun phrase consists of a noun a head-word and other related words (determiners and modifiers) may come before or after the noun. The entire phrase serves as a noun in the sentence. 

 Noun Phrase= noun + modifiers (or determiners).


They hired a huge beautiful home.

(As noun: object)

 A huge beautiful modifies the noun “home”

To get an object in the sentence, the question you are to ask is “What?”. Hence, what did they hire? A huge beautiful home.

She bought a decent black shirt

(As noun: object) 

One of our relatives never drinks coffee.

(As noun: subject)

Basically, a noun perform any of the following five functions:

1. Subject of a verb

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2. Object of a verb

3. Complement of a verb

4. Object of a preposition

5. Be in apposition to another noun.

Nouns are basic to sentence structure because they, along with pronouns, provide the subject  of the sentence. In addition, a noun functions as a direct object of a verb, an indirect object of a verb, object of a preposition, or a complement. The subject ( in bold) can be a person, place, thing or idea.

The eleven functions of noun phrases are noun phrase head, subject, subject complement, direct object, object complement, indirect object, prepositional complement, noun phrase modifier, determinative, appositive, and adjunct adverbial.

Note it somewhere, pls. I will take you advance, tonight. I am expecting distinction in English language from you.  They are eleven.

Noun phrase could be formed by using the following three principles 

a. Determiner +  noun = noun phrase 

E.g The / A + girl = The girl+ A girl

Our+ house = our house.

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Those + sweet + oranges = Those  sweet oranges.

b. Determiner+ Adjective+ noun= Noun phrase e.g

The / A + young + man= The young man / A young man

An+ unfortunate + incident= An unfortunate incident.

c. Quantifier+ Noun Adjective= Noun phrase e.g.

Many + people= Many people

A lot of + unnecessary errors =  A lot of unnecessary errors

Quantifier + Determinant + Noun= Noun phrases e.g

All + my+ thoughts= All my thoughts

All + those + men= All those men.

e. Quantifier+ Determiner + Adjective + Noun = Noun phrase e.g.

Both of+ her+ new+ shoes= Both of her new shoes.

Let’s us take it grammatically now. You can also get the grammatical name and functions from a noun phrase. E.g

 The man committed  the offense.

Grammatical name: A noun phrase

Function: It is the subject of the verb ” committed


 The man, it has no verb, and also, it has a Determiner/ Article and a noun. From our first principle, it equates to noun phrase.


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