The Grammatical Categories of the Gerund 

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The Grammatical Categories of the Gerund

Voice Perfect Active   Passive  
Non-Perfect   running taking   - being taken  
Perfect   having ran having taken - having been taken




The participle is a non-finite form of the verb which has a verbal and an adjectival or an adverbial character. There are two participles in English -- Participle I and Participle II, traditionally called the Present Participle and the Past Participle.

These traditional terms are open to objection on the ground that Participle I does not necessarily refer to the present, just as Participle II need not refer to the past. The difference between them is not a difference in tense, but chiefly a difference in voice.

Participle I is formed by adding the suffix -ing Зятковская Р.Г. Суффиксальная система современного английского языка. - М., 1971. - 187 c. to the stem of the verb; the following spelling rules should be observed:

(a) If a verb ends in a mute e, the mute e is dropped before adding the suffix -ing: to give -- giving, to close -- closing.

(b) If a verb ends in a consonant preceded by a vowel rendering a short stressed sound, the final consonant is doubled before adding the suffix -ing: to run -- running, to forget -- forgetting, to admit-- admitting.

A final l is doubled if it is preceded by a vowel letter rendering a short vowel sound, stressed or unstressed: to expel--expelling, to travel -- travelling.

(c) The verbs to die, to lie and to tie form Participle I in the following way: dying, lying, tying.

A final у is not changed before adding the suffix -ing: to comply -- complying, to deny -- denying.

The formation of Participle II.

According to the way in which the Past Indefinite and Participle II are formed, verbs are divided into three groups: regular verbs, irregular verbs, and mixed verbs.

1. Regular verbs. They form the Past Indefinite and Participle II by adding -ed to the stem of the verb, or only -d if the stem of the verb ends in -e. Зятковская Р.Г. Суффиксальная система современного английского языка. - М., 1971. - 188 с.

to want --wanted

The pronunciation of -ed (-d) depends on the sound preceding it. It is pronounced:

[эd] after t, d:

wanted [w?ntэd], landed [lжndэd]

[d] after voiced consonants except d and after vowels:

opened ['?up?nd], played [pleэd];

[t] after voiceless consonants except t:

worked [w?:kt].

The following spelling rules should be observed:

(a) Final у is changed into i before the addition of -ed if it is preceded by a consonant.

to carry -- carried

у remains unchanged if it is preceded by a vowel.

to enjoy -- enjoyed

(b) If a verb ends in a consonant preceded by a short stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled.

to stop --stopped

Final r is doubled if it is preceded by a stressed vowel.

to occur --- occurred

Final r is not doubled when preceded by a diphthong,

to appear -- appeared

Final l is doubled if it is preceded by a short vowel, stressed or unstressed:

to compel -- compelled

2. Irregular verbs. Here belong the following groups of verbs:

(a) verbs which change their root vowel.

to sing --sang -- sung

(b) verbs which change their root vowel and add -en for Participle II.

to speak --spoke --spoken

(c) verbs which change their root vowel and add -d or -t.

to sell --sold --sold

(d) verbs which change their final -d into -t.

to send --sent --sent

(e) verbs which have the same form for the Infinitive, Past Indefinite and Participle II.

to put -- put -- put

(f) verbs whose forms come from different stems.

to be -- was, were -- been

to go -- went -- gone

(g) special irregular verbs.

to have -- had -- had

to make -- made -- made

to do --did --done

(h) defective (anomalous) verbs.

can -- could



may -- might

will -- would

shall -- should

3. Mixed verbs, their Past Indefinite is of the regular type, and their Participle It is of the irregular type:

to show -- showed -- shown

As has already been stated, the participle has a verbal and an adjectival or adverbial character. Its adjectival or adverbial character is manifested in its syntactic functions, those of attribute or adverbial modifier. (Some participles have lost their verbality altogether and have become adjectives: interesting, charming, alarming, etc., complicated, distinguished, furnished, etc.

E.g. an interesting book, a charming girl, the alarming news; a complicated problem, a distinguished writer, a furnished apartment.)

I hated the hollow sound of the rain pattering on the roof. (Du Marnier) (attribute)

Мне был отвратителен глухой шум дождя, стучавшего по крыше.

And then she turned to the title-page, and looked at the name written in the schoolboy hand. (Ch. Bronte) (attribute)

Затем она открыла книгу па титульном листе и посмотрела на имя, написанное ученическим почерком.

The verbal characteristics of the participle are as follows:

1. Participle I of a transitive verb can take a direct object.

Opening the door, he went out on to the terrace. (Galsworthy)

2. Participle I and Participle II can be modified by an adverb.

Leaving the room hurriedly, he ran out. (Thackeray)

Deeply affected, Priam Farll rose and left the room. (Bennett)

3. Participle I has tense distinctions; Participle I of transitive verbs has also voice distinctions. In Modern English Participle I has the following forms:

  Active Passive  
Indefinite writing being written  
Perfect having written having been written  

The tense distinctions of the participle.

Like the tense distinctions of all the verbals, those of the participle are not absolute but relative.

Participle I Indefinite Active and Passive usually denotes an action simultaneous with the action expressed by the finite verb; depending on the tense-form of the finite verb it may refer to the present, past, or future.

When reading The Pickwick Papers, one can't help laughing.

When reading The Pickwick Papers, I couldn't help laughing.

When reading The Pickwick Papers, you will roar with laughter.

He looked at the carpet while waiting for her answer. (Galsworthy)

Он смотрел на ковер, ожидая ее ответа.

Me returned to the hut, bringing in his arms a new-born lamb. (Hardy)

Он вернулся в хижину, неся на руках новорожденного ягненка.

Being left alone, Pauline and I kept silence for some time. (Ch. Bronte)

Оставшись одни, мы с Полиной некоторое время молчали.

Sometimes Participle I Indefinite denotes an action referring to no particular time.

The last turning had brought them into the high-road leading to Bath. (Hardy)

После последнего поворота они вышли на дорогу, ведущую (которая вела) в Бат.

Participle I Perfect Active and Passive denotes an action prior to the action expressed by the finite verb.

Mr. Bumble, having spread a handkerchief over his knees..., began to eat and drink. (Dickens)

Мистер Бамбл, разостлав платок на коленях..., стал есть и пить.

They were, indeed, old friends, having been at school together. (Walpole)

Они и в самом деле были старыми друзьями, так как вместе учились в школе.

It should be noted that a prior action is not always expressed by Participle I Perfect: with some verbs of sense perception and motion, such as to see, to hear, to come, to arrive, to seize, to look, to turn and some others, Participle I Indefinite is used even when priority is meant.

Turning down an obscure street and entering an obscurer lane, lie went up to a smith's shop. (Hardy)

Свернув на темную улицу и войдя в еще более темный переулок, он подошел к кузнице.

Hearing a footstep below he rose and went to the top of the stairs. (Hardy)

Услышав шаги внизу, он встал и вышел на лестницу.

Participle II has no tense distinctions; it has only one form which can express both an action simultaneous with, and prior to the action expressed by the finite verb; the latter case is more frequent.

His sister's eyes fixed on him with a certain astonishment, obliged him at last to look at Fleur. (Galsworthy)

Взгляд сестры, устремленный на него с некоторым недоумением, заставил его, наконец, взглянуть на Флер.

I was reminded of a portrait seen in a gallery. (Du Maurier)

Мне вспомнился портрет, который я видела в картинной галерее.

In some cases Participle II denotes an action referring to no particular time.

He is a man loved and admired by everybody.

The voice distinctions of the participle.

Participle I of transitive verbs has special forms to denote the active and the passive voice.

When writing letters lie does not like to be disturbed.

Being written in pencil the letter was difficult to make out.

Having written some letters he went to post them.

Having been written long ago the manuscript was illegible.

Participle II of transitive verbs has a passive meaning, e. g. a broken glass, a caged bird. Participle II of intransitive verbs has no passive meaning; it is used only in compound tense-forms and has no independent [unction in the sentence unless it belongs to a verb which denotes passing into a new state, e. g. a withered flower, a faded leaf.


The parts of speech are classes of words, all the members of these classes having certain characteristics in common which distinguish them from the members of other classes. The problem of word classification into parts of speech still remains one of the most controversial problems in modern linguistics. The attitude of grammarians with regard to parts of speech and the basis of their classification varied a good deal at different times. Only in English grammarians have been vacillating between 3 and 13 parts of speech. There are four approaches to the problem:

Classical (logical-inflectional)




The classical parts of speech theory goes back to ancient times. It is based on Latin grammar. According to the Latin classification of the parts of speech all words were divided dichotomically into declinable and indeclinable parts of speech. This system was reproduced in the earliest English grammars. The first of these groups, declinable words, included nouns, pronouns, verbs and participles, the second – indeclinable words – adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections. The logical-inflectional classification is quite successful for Latin or other languages with developed morphology and synthetic paradigms but it cannot be applied to the English language because the principle of declinability/indeclinability is not relevant for analytical languages.

A new approach to the problem was introduced in the XIX century by Henry Sweet. He took into account the peculiarities of the English language. This approach may be defined as functional. He resorted to the functional features of words and singled out nominative units and particles. To nominative parts of speech belonged noun-words (noun, noun-pronoun, noun-numeral, infinitive, gerund), adjective-words (adjective, adjective-pronoun, adjective-numeral, participles), verb (finite verb, verbals – gerund, infinitive, participles), while adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection belonged to the group of particles. However, though the criterion for classification was functional, Henry Sweet failed to break the tradition and classified words into those having morphological forms and lacking morphological forms, in other words, declinable and indeclinable.

A distributional approachto the parts to the parts of speech classification can be illustrated by the classification introduced by Charles Fries. He wanted to avoid the traditional terminology and establish a classification of words based on distributive analysis, that is, the ability of words to combine with other words of different types. At the same time, the lexical meaning of words was not taken into account. According to Charles Fries, the words in such sentences as 1. Woggles ugged diggles; 2. Uggs woggled diggs; and 3. Woggs diggled uggles are quite evident structural signals, their position and combinability are enough to classify them into three word-classes. In this way, he introduced four major classes of words and 15 form-classes. Let us see how it worked. Three test frames formed the basis for his analysis:

Frame A - The concert was good (always);

Frame B - The clerk remembered the tax (suddenly);

Frame C – The team went there.

It turned out that his four classes of words were practically the same as traditional nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. What is really valuable in Charles Fries’ classification is his investigation of 15 groups of function words (form-classes) because he was the first linguist to pay attention to some of their peculiarities.

All the classifications mentioned above appear to be one-sided because parts of speech are discriminated on the basis of only one aspect of the word: either its meaning or its form, or its function.

In modern linguistics, parts of speech are discriminated according to three criteria: semantic, formal and functional. This approach may be defined as complex. The semantic criterion presupposes the grammatical meaning of the whole class of words (general grammatical meaning). The formal criterion reveals paradigmatic properties: relevant grammatical categories, the form of the words, their specific inflectional and derivational features. The functional criterion concerns the syntactic function of words in the sentence and their combinability. Thus, when characterizing any part of speech we are to describe: a) its semantics; b) its morphological features; c) its syntactic peculiarities.

The linguistic evidence drawn from our grammatical study makes it possible to divide all the words of the language into:

those denoting things, objects, notions, qualities, etc. – words with the corresponding references in the objective reality – notional words;

those having no references of their own in the objective reality; most of them are used only as grammatical means to form up and frame utterances – function words, or grammatical words.

It is commonly recognized that the notional parts of speech are nouns, pronouns, numerals, verbs, adjectives, adverbs; the functional parts of speech are articles, particles, prepositions, conjunctions and modal words.

The division of language units into notion and function words reveals the interrelation of lexical and grammatical types of meaning. In notional words the lexical meaning is predominant. In function words the grammatical meaning dominates over the lexical one. However, in actual speech the border line between notional and function words is not always clear cut. Some notional words develop the meanings peculiar to function words - e.g. seminotional words – to turn, to get, etc.

Notional words constitute the bulk of the existing word stock while function words constitute a smaller group of words. Although the number of function words is limited (there are only about 50 of them in Modern English), they are the most frequently used units.

Generally speaking, the problem of words’ classification into parts of speech is far from being solved. Some words cannot find their proper place. The most striking example here is the class of adverbs. Some language analysts call it a ragbag, a dustbin (Frank Palmer), Russian academician V.V.Vinogradov defined the class of adverbs in the Russian language as мусорная куча. It can be explained by the fact that to the class of adverbs belong those words that cannot find their place anywhere else. At the same time, there are no grounds for grouping them together either. Compare: perfectly (She speaks English perfectly) and again (He is here again). Examples are numerous (all temporals). There are some words that do not belong anywhere - e.g. after all. Speaking about after all it should be mentioned that this unit is quite often used by native speakers, and practically never by our students. Some more striking examples: anyway, actually, in fact. The problem is that if these words belong nowhere, there is no place for them in the system of words, then how can we use them correctly? What makes things worse is the fact that these words are devoid of nominative power, and they have no direct equivalents in the Ukrainian or Russian languages. Meanwhile, native speakers use these words subconsciously, without realizing how they work.


The Numeral.

General. The numeral denotes an abstract number or the order of thing in succession. They may be cardinal(how many) and ordinal(which one in sequence or return).

Morphological composition. Among the cardinals there are simple(1-12), derived(nineteen. fifty), and compound (twenty-one, forty-four)words.

Morphological characteristics. Numerals do not have morphological categories. Thus the numerals ten (десять), hundred (сто), thousand (тысяча) do not have plural forms.


In linguistics, the terms representing numbers can be classified according to their use:[1]

Cardinal numerals: these describe quantity – one, two, three, etc.

Ordinal numerals: describe position in a sequential order – first, second, third, etc. (the terms next and last mayalso be considered a kind of ordinals)

Ranking numerals: describe order, based on relevance or importance – primary, secondary, tertiary,etc.[ citation needed ]

Partitive numerals: describe division into fractions – whole, half, third, etc.

Composite numerals: describe composition – unary, binary, ternary, etc.

Multiplicative numerals: describe repetition - once, twice, and thrice

Reproductive numerals: describe replication – single, double, triple, etc. (multiple serves as a generic plural)

Collective numerals: describe sets – pair, triad, dozen, etc. (musical terms: solo, duo / duet, trio, etc. / kinshipterms: twin, triplet, etc.) The term is also used for a specialized type of numeral in the Polish number system.

Distributive numerals: describe an alternating pattern – each person (one), every other week (entailing twoweeks), every third person, etc. Note that the English language does not have distinct distributive numerals (thoughit does have distributive adjectives/pronouns, such as each, either and every), but some other languages such asGeorgian[2] and Latin do have them, e.g. Latin singuli ("one by one"), bini ("in pairs", "by twos"), terni ("three each"),etc.

Morphological numerals: are mainly used only metalinguistically to describe grammatical number in language – singular, dual, trial, and quadral (to include plural)

Terms such as most, least, some, and others like them are not technically numerals, but quantifiers. Quantifiers donot enumerate, or designate a specific number, but give another, often less specific, indication of amount.


The adjective.

General. Adj is a part of speech denoting different states of a noun. the morphological composition, adjs can be subdivided into:simple-big, derived-beautiful, compound-long-legged. Compound Adjs consist of at least 2 stems.

Morphological characteristics. Adjs in English do not take any endings to express agreement with the head-word. The only pattern of morphological change is that of degrees of comparison(positive, comparative, and superlative).

good/well bad little many - better - worse - less - more - best - worst - least - most

Semantic characteristics. their way of nomination adjectives fall into two groups - qualitative-denote properties of a substance directly (great, cold, beautiful) and relativedescribe properties of a substance through relation to materials (woollen, wooden, feathery, leathern, flaxen), to place (Northern, European, Bulgarian, Italian), to time (daily, monthly, weekly, yearly), to some action (defensive, rotatory, preparatory), or to relationship (fatherly, friendly).

Patterns of combinability. Adjs are combined with several parts of speech. They can be of dif.types and will stand in the following order:judgement or general characterization(nice), size(small), colour(blue), form(round), age(old), limiting adjs(french, left).


In many languages, attributive adjectives usually occur in a specific order. In general, the adjective order in English is:[6][7]

Determiners — articles, adverbs, and other limiters.

Observation — postdeterminers and limiter adjectives (e.g., a real hero, a perfect idiot) and adjectives subject to subjective measure (e.g., beautiful, interesting), or objects with a value (e.g., best, cheapest, costly)

Size and shape — adjectives subject to objective measure (e.g., wealthy, large, round), and physical properties such as speed.

Age — adjectives denoting age (e.g., young, old, new, ancient, six-year-old).

Color — adjectives denoting color (e.g., red, black, pale).

Origin — denominal adjectives denoting source of noun (e.g., French, American, Canadian).

Material — denominal adjectives denoting what something is made of (e.g., woolen, metallic, wooden).



Simple sentence


Simple sentences can be very short, consisting of only one word (a noun) for the subject and one word (a verb) for the predicate. The noun is called the simple subject, and the verb is the simple predicate.

John laughed.

: Simple sentences can be long, although they still consist of one subject (a noun and modifiers) and one predicate (a verb and other elements). The noun is called the simple subject, and the verb is the simple predicate. The tall, good-looking boy with the curly blond hair laughed uproariously at his best friend’s suggestion.

A simple sentence structure contains one independent clause and no dependent clauses.[2]

I run.

This simple sentence has one independent clause which contains one subject, I, and one predicate, run.

The girl ran into her bedroom.

This simple sentence has one independent clause which contains one subject, girl, and one predicate, ran into her bedroom. The predicate is a verb phrase that consists of more than one word.

In the backyard, the dog barked and howled at the cat.

This simple sentence has one independent clause which contains one subject, dog, and one predicate, barked and howled at the cat. This predicate has two verbs, known as a compound predicate: barked and howled. This compound verb should not be confused with a compound sentence. In the backyard and at the cat are prepositional phrases.



Secondary parts of sentence

sentence is a linguistic unit consisting of one or more words that are grammatically linked. A sentence can include words grouped meaningfully to express a statement,question, exclamation, request, command or suggestion.[1] A sentence is a set of words that in principle tells a complete thought (although it may make little sense taken in isolation out of context); thus it may be a simple phrase, but it conveys enough meaning to imply a clause, even if it is not explicit. For example, "Two" as a sentence (in answer to the question "How many were there?") implies the clause "There were two". Typically a sentence contains a subject and predicate. A sentence can also be defined purely in orthographic terms, as a group of words starting with a capital letter and ending in a full stop.[2] (However, this definition is useless for unwritten languages, or languages written in a system that does not employ both devices, or precise analogues thereof.) For instance, the opening of Charles Dickens's novel Bleak House begins with the following three sentences:

London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November weather.

The first sentence involves one word, a proper noun. The second sentence has only a non-finite verb (although using the definition given above, e.g. "Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall." would be a sentence by itself). The third is a single nominal group. Only an orthographic definition encompasses this variation.

In the teaching of writing skills (composition skills), students are generally required to express (rather than imply) the elements of a sentence, leading to the schoolbook definition of a sentence as one that must [explicitly] include a subject and a verb. For example, in second-language acquisition, teachers often reject one-word answers that only imply a clause, commanding the student to "give me a complete sentence", by which they mean an explicit one.

As with all language expressions, sentences might contain function and content words and contain properties such as characteristic intonation and timing patterns.

Sentences are generally characterized in most languages by the inclusion of a finite verb, e.g. "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog".

  The Object The Object is a secondary part of the sentence expressed by a verb, a noun, a substantival pronoun, an adjective, a numeral, or an adverb, and denoting a thing to which the action passes on, which is a result of the action, in reference to which an action is committed or a property is manifested, or denoting an action as object of another action. Objects differ form one another by their morphological composition, by the parts of speech or phrases which perform the function of object by the type of their relation to the action expressed by the verb (direct/indirect) Classification of object: Prepositional and non-prepositional objects Morphological types (noun, pronoun, substantivized adjective, infinitive, gerund) Direct/indirect, is applied only to objects expressed by nouns or pronouns. There are sentences in which the predicate is expressed by the verbs send, show, lend, give. These verbs usually take 2 different kinds of objects simultaneously: (1) an object expressing the thing which is sent, shown, lent, given, etc. (2) the person or persons to whom the thing is sent, shown, lent, given, etc. The difference between the 2 relations is clear enough: the direct object denotes the thing immediately affected by the action denoted by the predicate verb, whereas the indirect object expresses the person towards whom the thing is moved, e.g. We sent them a present. The indirect object stands 1st, the direct object comes after it. In studying different kinds of objects it is also essential to take into account the possibility of the corresponding passive construction.   The Adverbial Modifier. The term ‘adverbial modifier’ cannot be said to be a very lucky one, as it is apt to convey erroneous (wrong, incorrect) ideas about the essence of this secondary part. They have nothing to do with adverbs and they modify not only verbs. There are several ways of classifying adverbial modifiers: According to their meaning – not a grammatical classification. However it may acquire some grammatical significance. According to their morphological peculiarities – according to the parts of speech and to the phrase patterns. It has also something to do with word order, and stands in a certain relation to the classification according to meaning.adverb,preposition + noun,a noun without a preposition,infinitive or an infinitive phrase According to the type of their head-word – is the syntactic classification proper. The meaning of the word (phrase) acting as modifier should be compatible with the meaning of the head-word. Adverbial modifier of: Time and frequency, Place and direction, Manner and attendant circumstances, Cause, Purpose, Result, Condition, Concession, Degree   The attribute The problem of the attribute.The attribute is a secondary part of the sentence modifying a part of the sentence expressed by a noun, a substantivized pronoun, a cardinal numeral, and any substantivized word, and characterizing the thing named by these words as to its quality or property. The attribute can either precede or follow the noun it modifies. Accordingly we use terms prepositive and postpositive attribute. The position of an attribute with respect to its head-word depends partly on the morphological peculiarities of the attribute itself, and partly on stylistic factors. The size of the prepositive attributive phrase can be large in ME. Whatever is included between the article and the noun, is apprehended as an attribute.   Apposition Apposition – a word or a phrase referring to a part of the sentence expressed by a noun, and giving some other designation to the person or thing named by that noun, e.g. For a moment, Melanie thought how nice Captain Butler was. Parenthesis Parenthesis – words and phrases which have no syntactical ties with the sentence, and express the speaker’s attitude towards what he says, a general assessment of the statement, or an indication of its sources, its connection with other statements, or with a wider context in speech.   Extensions Хаймович, Роговская: Extensions – adjuncts of adjectives, adverbs and adlinks in a sentence. They differ from complements and attributes in being usually modifiers of modifiers, or tertiaries (Jespersen), e.g. The creature’s eyes were alight with a somber frenzy. Connectives Connectives – linking-words considered as a secondary aprt of the sentence. They are mostly prepositions and conjunctions,e.g. She played and sang to him. They usually connect 2 words both or neither of which might be regarded as their head-words. The words they connect belong to various parts of speech.   Specifiers Specifiers– not adjuncts of definite parts of speech like complements, attributes or extensions. They do not link any part of the sentence like connectives. They are not parenthetical elements. So they make a distinct secondary part of the sentence. The name just indicates the function, e.g. I was only brilliant once.


Types of Phrases


A phrase is a group of related words (within a sentence) without both subject and verb. For example, He is laughing at the joker.

A phrase functions as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective or preposition in a sentence. The function of a phrase depends on its construction (words it contains). On the basis of their functions and constructions, phrases are divided into various types i.e. noun phrase, verb phrase, adverb phrase, adjective phrase, appositive phrase, infinite phrase, participle phrase and gerund phrase.


Noun Phrase

A noun phrase consists of a noun and other related words (usually modifiers and determiners) which modify the noun. It functions like a noun in a sentence.

A noun phrase consists of a noun as the head word and other words (usually modifiers and determiners) which come after or before the noun. The whole phrase works as a noun in a sentence.
Noun Phrase = noun + modifiers (the modifiers can be after or before noun)

He is wearing a nice red shirt. (as noun/object)
A sentence can also contain more noun phrases.
For example. The girl with blue eyes bought a beautiful chair.


Prepositional phrase.

A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition, object of preposition(noun or pronoun) and may also consist of other modifiers.
e.g. on a table, near a wall, in the room, at the door, under a tree

A prepositional phrase starts with a preposition and mostly ends with a noun or pronoun. Whatever prepositional phrase ends with is called object of preposition. A prepositional phrase functions as an adjective or adverb in a sentence.

A boy on the roof is singing a song. (As adjective)


Adjective Phrase.

An adjective phrase is a group of words that functions like an adjective in a sentence. It consists of adjectives, modifier and any word that modifies a noun or pronoun.
An adjective phrase functions like an adjective to modify (or tell about) a noun or a pronoun in a sentence.

He is wearing a nice red shirt. (modifies shirt)

Prepositional phrases and participle phrases also function as adjectives so we can also call them adjective phrases when they function as adjective. In the above sentence “The girl with brown hair is singing a song”, the phrase “with brown hair” is a prepositional phrase but it functions as an adjective.


Adverb Phrase

An adverb phrase is a group of words that functions as an adverb in a sentence. It consists of adverbs or other words (preposition, noun, verb, modifiers) that make a group with works like an adverb in a sentence.
An adverb phrase functions like an adverb to modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb.

He always behaves in a good manner. (modifies verb behave)
They were shouting in a loud voice. (modifies verb shout)
She always drives with care. (modifies verb drive)
He sat in a corner of the room. (modifies verb sit)
He returned in a short while. (modifies verb return)

A prepositional phrase can also act as an adverb phrase. For example in above sentence “He always behaves in a good manner ”, the phrase “in a good manner” is a prepositional phrase but it acts as adverb phrase here.


Verb Phrase

A verb phrase is a combination of main verb and its auxiliaries (helping verbs) in a sentence.

He is eating an apple.
She has finished her work.
You should study for the exam.
She has been sleeping for two hours.

According to generative grammar, a verb phrase can consist of main verb, its auxiliaries, its complements and other modifiers. Hence it can refer to the whole predicate of a sentence.
Example. You should study for the exam.


Infinitive Phrase

An infinitive phrase consist of an infinitive(to + simple form of verb) and modifiers or other words associated to the infinitive. An infinitive phrase always functions as an adjective, adverb or a noun in a sentence.

He likes to read books. (As noun/object)
To earn money is a desire of everyone. (As noun/subject)
He shouted to inform people about fire. (As adverb, modifies verb shout)
He made a plan to buy a car. (As adjective, modifies noun plan)


Gerund Phrase

A gerund phrase consists of a gerund(verb + ing) and modifiers or other words associated with the gerund. A gerund phrase acts as a noun in a sentence.

I like writing good essays. (As noun/object)
She started thinking about the problem. (As noun/object)
Sleeping late in night is not a good habit. (As noun/subject)
Weeping of a baby woke him up. (As noun/subject)


Participle Phrase

A participle phrase consists of a present participle (verb + ing), a past participle (verb ending in -ed or other form in case of irregular verbs) and modifiers or other associate words. A participle phrase is separated by commas. It always acts as an adjective in a sentence.

The kids, making a noise, need food. (modifies kids)
I received a letter, mentioning about my exam. (modifies letter)
The table, made of steel, is too expensive. (modifies table)
We saw a car, damaged in an accident. (modifies car)


Absolute Phrase

Absolute phrase (also called nominative phrase) is a group of words including a noun or pronoun and a participle as well as any associated modifiers. Absolute phrase modifies (give information about) the entire sentence. It resembles a clause but it lack a true finite verb. It is separated by a comma or pairs of commas from the rest sentence.

He looks sad, his face expressing worry.
She was waiting for her friend, her eyes on the clock.
John is painting a wall, his shirt dirty with paint.




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