Kinds of Phrases:
· Noun phrase NP
· Verb phrase VP / Main Verb phrase MVP
· Adjective phrase ADJP
· Adverb phrase ADVP
Reminder: Phrases are groups of words that act as a single unit, as above “the dancing bears” and “the people who live next door” act as noun phrases – as units, serving as the subjects of their sentences.
Within the subject and the predicate, we will have phrases. These are noun phrases, main verb phrases, adjective phrases, and adverb phrases. Every phrase has a headword, and that headword determines the name of the phrase.
Noun phrase: A noun phrase consists of its headword (usually a noun) plus any words modifying that headword. Nouns function as subjects, objects, indirect objects, objects of prepositions, and noun complements.
The boy in the green shirt threw that stone.
Here we have two noun phrases. In the first, boy is the headword. Since the determiner the and the prepositional phrase in the green shirt both modify boy, they are also part of this noun phrase.
Main verb phrase: The main verb of a sentence plus its auxiliaries, if any. The headword of a main verb phrase is the main verb.
The boy had been pestering us all day.
Here, the headword of the main verb phrase is pestering. It has two auxiliaries, had and been which are both therefore part of the verb phrase. Notice that even though all day modifies the verb, it is not part of the verb phrase -- only main verbs + their auxiliaries comprise the verb phrase.
Notice also that we can also have verb phrases elsewhere in a sentence – verb phrases that are not main verb phrase, in other words. For instance, a relative clause, a subordinated clause, will both contain verb phrases.. These won’t be the main verb phrase, but like the MVP, they’ll be constructed of a verb plus any auxiliaries.
The boy who was pestering us has lost his recess.
Here, was pestering is a verb phrase, but it is not the main verb phrase. It's the verb phrase in the relative clause (who was pestering us). The main verb phrase is has lost.
Adjective phrase: An adjective phrase is made up of an adjective plus any words modifying that adjective. The headword of an adjective phrase is the main adjective in the phrase.
The tree fell on the bright orange truck.
We bought a truck even better than yours.
Adverb phrase: An Adverb phrase is made up of an adverb plus any words modifying that adverb. The headword is the main adverb in the phrase.
The bear growled very fiercely
How do we know what kind of phrase we have? We decide what kind of phrase we have by looking at both form and function. Look at the most important word in that phrase, and look at the way the phrase is functioning. If the most important word is a noun, and the phrase is functioning as a noun, then we have a noun phrase. If the most important word is a verb, and the phrase is functioning as verb, then we have a verb phrase.