In this article, we are going to be looking at the various types of phrases found in the English language. We will do this by taking a look at the different types of words and also by looking at different examples and interactive exercises to further show the use of each type of phrase in English.


Phrase Definition

What is a Phrase?

A phrase is a group of words in a sentence that does not have a subject nor a verb. A phrase cannot express a complete thought on its own because it lacks a subject and a verb. This is what differentiates a clause from a phrase in that it can convey a complete idea on its own because it has a subject and a verb.

A phrase is composed of a head, also known as a headword, which defines the grammatical nature the unit will assume and a single or multiple optional modifiers. A phrase may further comprise of other phrases within them.

Types of Phrases

Phrases are grouped into eight categories, namely; noun phrases, infinitive phrases, verb phrases, appositive phrases, participial phrases, gerund phrases, absolute phrases, and prepositional phrases.

Let’s take a look at each of the phrases in detail and its examples:

Noun Phrases

A noun phrase is composed of a noun and modifiers. Examples in a sentence:

  • The disabled woman was left out of the trip.
  • The deceased person was humble and faithful.
  • The young vet had come across several cases of pneumonia.
  • Sunday became a quiet, sorrow evening.
  • The ailing mother was generous and honest.

Verb Phrases

A verb phrase is composed of a verb and words that modify the verb.


  • She was waiting for the bus to arrive.
  • She was interested in watching the film.
  • You have not uttered a word since morning.
  • You might enjoy a cup of tea.
  • He was excited to be part of the party.
  • He was anxious to meet her favorite actor
  • She was distressed when she failed the test.
  • He was pleased to have his application approved.
  • He was eager to say goodbye to his classmates.
  • You might find it necessary to carry an umbrella.
  • You could have won the race if you had prepared in advance.
  • He was prepared to quit the job if her nemesis was to become the CEO.

Gerund Phrases

A gerund phrase is a noun phrase that starts with a verb that acts as a noun. Here are the examples:

  • Walking in a thorny bush can be stressful.
  • Marking assignments can be challenging.
  • Getting married is exciting.
  • Taking my daughter out is fun.
  • Wandering across the street is awkward.
  • Getting a good grade was the result of hard work.
  • Doing an assignment for her friends was the only way to earn a living.
  • Attending extra classes wasn’t enough to better her grades.
  • Washing clothes is tedious.
  • Starring at the visitors all day did not earn her a living.

Infinitive Phrases

It is a noun phrase that starts with an infinitive verb. The following are the examples:

  • I moved to the city to work on a government project.
  • He planned protests to send a message to the authorities.
  • I tried to convince him, but he couldn’t listen.
  • The institution decided to reduce the workers’ pay.
  • To prepare a meal, you need to have all the ingredients in place.
  • She needs counseling to change her behavior.
  • He needs to work out on his weaknesses.
  • I tried to stop the boys from fighting, but my effort ended in vain.
  • .He could have made it, but he was not aggressive enough.
  • He has to improve if he has to be promoted to the next class.
  • She has to prepare supper on time if she wants to stand a chance to do the assignment.

Appositive Phrases

An appositive phrase is a phrase that defines and reaffirms a noun. It’s composed of single or multiple words. Here are the examples:

  • Eliud, the most famous marathoner, can run 42 kilometers in less than two hours.
  • My thought, submitting all the assignments in a PDF format, was welcomed by the lecturer.
  • Chelsea, my favorite football club, is doing well in the competition.
  • A lion, the king of the jungle, is feared by all animals.
  • My house girl, the helper of the family, is also part of my family.
  • Her pet, Golden Retriever, was her everything.
  • My boyfriend, the love of my life, is also a workmate.
  • Christiano Ronaldo, the most famous footballer of all time, is the most adored.

Participial Phrases

This type of phrase starts with a present or past participle. Here are the examples:

  • Being aware of the situation, I wish I had never told her the truth.
  • We are eager to start a new chapter, having completed the previous one yesterday.
  • I’m more than happy, knowing the number of guests that have confirmed to attend the ceremony.
  • Painted light-blue, the old car seemed new.
  • Stolen with my computer, my watch is nowhere to be found.

Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase can function as an adverb, adjective, or a noun and starts with a preposition.

Here are the examples:

  • He beat the odds to win the top award.
  • The screwdriver was on the chair.
  • I didn’t sleep for a while.
  • He was surrounded by dogs.
  • We stayed indoors due to bad weather.
  • She wrote an interesting article.
  • She knew it was as a result of neglecting duties.
  • We didn’t talk for a while.
  • We parted ways a long time ago.
  • He doesn’t see eye to eye with her younger sister.

Absolute phrases

An absolute phrase is composed of a modifier, noun, and a participle. Here is an example:

  • The harvest declined with excessive sunlight.


Phrases are a great addition to any form of writing. As a writer, the addition of phrases in your content is one of the ways to make it more meaningful and useful to your readers. Correct use of phrases ensures your content has a smooth flow, and the readers will love reading it again and again. Also, phrases add clarity to any form of writing, which means the reader can easily understand the intent of the writer. The choice of phrases is also important because not all phrases can fit in a particular sentence or paragraph. Ensure the phrase you choose only makes your content better.

Mastery of phrases is essential because, as a writer, you will not take time thinking of the phrases to apply to your writing to make it exciting and meaningful.

Phrase Infographic

Phrase: Definition,Types and Useful Examples of Phrases