Section 5: Introduction to Phrases

Section 5 is the next stage for analyzing grammar in context effectively, at the level of PHRASES.

Section 5 has four primary sub-sections, representing the most common phrases that you will analyze in English:

Syntax and Phrases - Syntax offers a linguistic approach to analyzing the structure of language. This subsection offers a very brief introduction to phrase-structure diagrams.

Main Verb Phrases - The main verb phrase consists of the main verb of the clause plus its auxiliary or helping verbs in an unchanging order.

Prepositional Phrases - Prepositions are structure-class words that precede a nominal, which is the object of the preposition. Together, the preposition and its object form a unit that can modify words, phrases, clauses, or whole sentences: the prepositional phrase.

Nonfinite Verb Phrases - A nonfinite verb is a verb without tense. Nonfinite Verb Phrases DO NOT occur as part of a main verb phrase and can function nominally, adjectivally, or adverbially. You will be able to analyze the function of infinitive, participle, and gerund phrases as they are functioning in the context of their sentences.

The primary goal for this sub-section is to help you develop analytical strategies at the PHRASE level. This means an ability to identify in context:

  • main verb phrase of any clause
  • verb tenses and compound verb forms
  • passive structures
  • prepositional phrases and their functions
  • infinitive phrases and their functions
  • participle phrases (as adjectival or adverbial) and gerund phrases (nominal)

Once you have read all of the pages in this section, you can develop your anlaytical skills further by reading through the ANALYZING EXAMPLES page, then working your way through the Section 5 Practice Exercises.