What is a Phrase in English For Kids: (With Examples)

So, how do you explain phrases to your students? An expression is a group of words that doesn’t include a verb. As soon as a verb is included, it becomes a clause. It’s a term that describes two or more words clustered into an overarching idea or variation to explain something. While a phrase can be a complete sentence or clause, a phrase does not contain a subject and verb. Therefore, it cannot convey a complete thought. A word contrasts with a clause, as a clause contains a subject and verb and can get a whole idea.

They often have a meaning that forms a standard clause. An example of a phrase would be:

“A story as old as time.”

Check out these examples of typical phrases:

  • Give Sam their present in the morning
  • Let’s find a spot in the sun
  • My cousin Janet eats cakes daily.

You can also build multiple phrases into a sentence. For example, the sentence:

  • My sister Mary eats cake all-day

This can turn into:

  • My cousin Janet was eating cake during the week.

As well as:

  • My cousin Janet was eating cream cakes from the bakery during the week.

What Is An Example of a Phrase?

There are probably many phrases that you and your students might already be familiar with. These are the most straightforward examples to use when explaining words. Here are five examples of different types of phrases.

  1. A prepositional phrase: Once in a blue moon
  2. A present participle phrase: Reading a book
  3. An infinitive expression: To be free
  4. A noun phrase: Delicious food
  5. A gerund phrase: Running water

What are The Common Types of Phrases?

To further understand a phrase in English, it’s helpful to look at the different types of words we can use.

Absolute Phrase -Uses the subject of a sentence but doesn’t contain the actionable verb. This means it wouldn’t be a complete sentence if left standalone.

‘When the sun rose, we left on our adventure.’

Appositive Phrase -This is the definition of the noun in a phrase; often, an appositive phrase restates the noun in synonym form to explain it further.

‘My favorite food, pasta, has many shapes!’

This example uses both ‘food’ and ‘favorite’ in the phrase.

Gerund Phrase -This means that the phrase has a ‘gerund’ word, also known as a word ending in the suffix ‘-ing’ at the beginning of the term to describe and set the scene.

‘Talking to the teacher helped her solve the maths problem.’

Infinitive Phrase -Begins with an infinitive verb. For example, these phrases will include verbs such as ‘to run,’ ‘to dance,’ and ‘to walk.’

To pass this test, you need to revise.’

Noun Phrase -Describes a place, object, or thing in the sentence. This example phrase below describes the ‘story’ in tiny words.

‘A story as old as time.’

You might want to add more information to create a complete sentence here. For example, there may be a modifying clause that further describes the phrase:

‘This leather-bound book tells a story as old as time.’

Participial Phrase -Both past and present verbs represent a description word within the sentence. Using -ed or -ing endings:

‘We talked, but I didn’t enjoy the conversation.’

‘He was swimming until the hour ended.’

Adjective Phrase -An adjective phrase is a group of words headed by an adjective that modifies a noun. To identify an adjective phrase, the key is to look at the first word of the group of words. If it is an adverb or preposition, it is an adjective phrase consisting of an intensifier and an adjective. You can see these adjective phrases in action in the example below. Here, the adjective phrase modifies ‘Victoria.’

Adverbial Phrase -An adverbial phrase is a group of words that functions as an adverb. Adverbial terms can make a sentence more interesting and exciting. They tell us how, when, where, why, and how long. They can describe how something happened or will happen. They can show time and tell us where something happened. In these examples, we have again highlighted the adverbial phrase in pink.

Luckily for us, we arrived just in time.

He sings in a low register.

Prepositional Phrases -These are brilliant for acting as an adjective, noun, or verb during a phrase. For example:

‘Somewhere over the rainbow.’
‘The remote was behind the sofa.’

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