A phrase is a group of related words that does not include a subject and verb. (If the group of related words does contain a subject and verb, it is considered a clause.) There are several different kinds of phrases. Understanding how they are constructed and how they function within a sentence can bolster a writer's confidence in writing sentences that are sound in structure and various in form. NOUN PHRASE A noun phrase comprises a noun (obviously) and any associated modifiers: • • •
The long and winding road A noun phrase any associated modifiers
The modifiers that accompany a noun can take any number of forms and combination of forms: adjectives, of course ("the tall and brilliant professor"); a participial phrase ("the road following the edge of the frozen lake"); an infinitive phrase ("the first man to walk on the moon"); a modifying clause ("the presentation that he had made the day before"); and prepositional phrases ("the building next to the lodge, over by the highway"). [See below for definitions of participial, infinitive, and prepositional phrases.] Usually, a noun phrase will be all of a piece, all the words that compose it being contiguous with the noun itself. It is possible, however, for a noun phrase to be broken, to become what we call discontinuous. Sometimes part of the noun phrase is delayed until the end of the sentence so that that portion of the phrase (usually modifying phrases — participial or prepositional) can receive end weight or focus. In our first example, for instance (noun phrase in dark red) , •
Several accidents have been reported involving passengers falling from trains .
we could have put the entire noun phrase together: "Several accidents involving passengers falling from trains have been reported recently." Shifting the modifying phrases of the red-colored part of the phrase to the end puts additional emphasis on that part. Here are some other examples: •
A rumor circulated among the staff that...
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