We have learnt that sentences consist of words put together in a structured manner to help communicate thoughts. The sentence is normally divided into a subject and a predicate. Obviously, this means that both the subject and predicate comprise words drawn from different parts of speech. These words are strung together based on the rules of grammar so that everyone who is aware of the rules is able to follow.
By themselves the groups of words representing subject and predicate are known as a phrase. Thus, phrases are groups of words that fall short of being called sentences because they communicate thoughts partially. While the sentence has a subject and a predicate the phrase has only one of them.
Typically, there are noun phrases and verb phrases representing subject and predicate respectively. For instance:
A BLUE and NEW CAR by themselves are noun phrases.
PLAYING A MATCH is a verb phrase.
A single word, such as a noun or a verb, is also termed a phrase. For example, ‘I go’ is a complete sentence and here ‘I’ and ‘go’ are single words which by themselves represent phrases.
Of course, phrases can comprise more than one word and most sentences comprise phrases which are two or more words. As mentioned earlier, phrases are a group of words drawn from different parts of speech. Any single word in a completed sentence by itself can form a phrase and this word can be from any of the different parts of speech that constitute the English language. Likewise, any group of words which are drawn from the sentence in sequence is also a phrase, provided that group of words does not form a complete sentence. This is because (as we learned in the quiz on punctuations and conjunctions) two independent sentences can be combined into a single sentence by the use of an appropriate conjunction or punctuation mark.
The English language affords flexibility for the writer to use phrases imaginatively and combine the phrases to form a sentence, which may be different for different writers. By playing the following quiz you will learn to identify phrases and see how they are different from sentences.