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English definition of “phrase”

phrase

noun [C] (GRAMMAR)    /freɪz/
a group of words that is part of, rather than the whole of, a sentence Sentences and expressions Grammar:ChunksWhen we speak and write, we repeat a lot of phrases and clauses, such as on the other hand, a lot of, at the moment, you know, you see, I mean. Some of these phrases, or chunks of language, are very common and they have specific meanings.Grammar:Chunks in speakingWe use chunks like you know, you know what I mean, I know what you’re saying to check and show understanding between speaker and listener:Grammar:Chunks in writingWe use many chunks in writing. They help us to structure what we write:Grammar:Chunks as framesSome chunks don’t look complete (I don’t know if, in the middle of). These usually help make up or frame sentences:Grammar:Noun phrasesA noun phrase consists of a noun or pronoun, which is called the head, and any dependent words before or after the head. Dependent words give specific information about the head.Grammar:Noun phrases: dependent wordsIn a noun phrase, dependent words before the head are either determiners (e.g. the, my, some) or premodifiers (e.g. adjectives). Dependent words after the head are either complements or postmodifiers.Grammar:Noun phrases: determiners (a, the, my, his, some, this, etc.)Determiners come first in a noun phrase (e.g. the big black car). They include:Grammar:Noun phrases: premodifiers (big, good, red)Premodifiers consist of single adjectives, adjective phrases, single nouns and noun phrases which are used before the head in a noun phrase.Grammar:Noun phrases: complementsComplements come immediately after the head in a noun phrase. They are prepositional phrases or clauses which are necessary to complete the meaning of the noun. Without the complement, we wouldn’t understand what the noun was referring to.Grammar:Noun phrases: postmodifiersPostmodifiers come after the head in a noun phrase. They consist of adverb phrases, prepositional phrases and clauses. Postmodifiers give extra or specific information about the noun (e.g. place, possession, identifying features). Unlike complements, they are not necessary to complete the meaning.Grammar:Noun phrases: complements or postmodifiers?Complements are necessary to complete the meaning of a noun. Postmodifiers are not necessary; they give extra information about the noun which helps to identify it or locate it in some way. (The complement and the postmodifier are underlined below.)Grammar:Noun phrases: orderBefore the head of a noun phrase, determiners come first, then adjectives, then nouns acting as modifiers. The spoken stress is normally on the head.Grammar:Noun phrases: usesGrammar:Noun phrases: noun phrases and verbsGrammar:Noun phrases: two noun phrases togetherWe can put two noun phrases (np) together to refer to the same person or thing. This is called apposition:Grammar:Verb phrasesA verb phrase consists of a main verb alone, or a main verb plus any modal and/or auxiliary verbs. The main verb always comes last in the verb phrase:Grammar:Simple verb phrasesA simple verb phrase consists of a main verb. The verb in a simple verb phrase shows the type of clause (e.g. declarative, imperative):Grammar:Complex verb phrasesA complex verb phrase may include one modal verb and one or more auxiliary verbs before the main verb. A modal verb always comes before any auxiliary verbs:Grammar:Verbs and verb phrases: typical errors
(Definition of phrase noun (GRAMMAR) from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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