A phrase is a group of word (usually small) that forms part of a clause and is in itself meaningful. However, it cannot form a complete independent entity on its own because it does not make a complete sense.
We have the following types of phrases:
As the name implies, it’s all about a noun as the central unit.
- The man raised his hands and approached the guard.
- A bottle of milk could do the trick.
- I saw him reading a book about the misappropriation of public fund.
A verb is the main part of this phrase—showing action.
- I will leave as soon as he comes.
- We should have been rewarded before the conference.
- We might have known him.
This is a phrase that forms the adjectival part of a clause.
- He was very friendly when we met him.
- They opined that pastors should be as pure as possible.
- Tortoise are too slow, they can’t win any race.
It is the adjectival part of a clause with word added before and/or after it.
- He drove the car extremely slowly.
- We must move as quickly as possible to arrest them.
- It is very likely they knew about it.
Note: Don’t get confused about the ‘very’ in both adjective and adverbial phrases. friendly is an adjective; likely is an adverb.
This type of phrase is formed by using a preposition at the ‘beginning’ of the phrase.
- He sat in the armchair and looked lost.
- The captain stood on the bridge and waved at us.
- I can’t go near the bag, it might contain an explosive device.
Note: you sit on a chair but in an armchair.
Words that have a particular meaning, often referred to as idioms, are also called phrases. Examples are: a square meal, rain cats and dogs, etc.