A group of words that makes sense but not complete sense is called a phrase. A group of words that makes complete sense is called a sentence.
All the four groups of words given above are sentences, for they make complete sense. The expressions in bold letters are all phrases. From the above examples, it should be clear that a phrase is usually a part of a sentence. A phrase does not contain a finite verb. But it may contain a non-finite verb. (an infinitive, a participle, or a gerund ).
A phrase that acts as an adjective in a sentence is called an adjective phrase. Let us take an example.
In sentence 1, the word steel describes the noun almirah, so it is an adjective. In sentence 2, the word steel has been replaced by the phrase made of steel. But this phrase also describes the noun almirah. So it is an adjective phrase.
A phrase that acts as an adverb in a sentence is called an adverb phrase. Let us take an example.
In sentence 1, the word foolishly is an adverb describing the verb acted. It describes how she acted. So it is an adverb of manner. In sentence 2, the word foolishly has been replaced by the phrase in a foolish manner, but it does exactly the same work; it describe how she acted. So in a foolish manner is an adverb phrase.
A phrase that acts as a noun in a sentence is called a noun phrase.Let us take an example.
In sentence 1, the phrase reading comics answer the question: love what?. So the phrase reading comics is the object of the verb love. Since only a noun ( or a pronoun that stands for a noun ) can be the object of a verb, this phrase acts as a noun. Hence, it is a noun phrase.
In sentence 2, to listen to good music is the object of the verb like. In sentence 3, painting landscapes is the subject of the verb is. And in sentence 4, to understand people is the subject of the verb is. Since all these phrases are acting as nouns, they may be called noun phrases.
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