Phrase Examples

A phrase is a group of words that express a concept and is used as a unit within a sentence. Eight common types of phrases are: noun, verb, gerund, infinitive, appositive, participial, prepositional, and absolute. Take a look at our selection of phrase examples below.

happy family camping by a river happy family camping by a river
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Noun Phrases

A noun phrase consists of a noun and all its modifiers.

Here are examples:

  • The bewildered tourist was lost.
  • The lost puppy was a wet and stinky dog.
  • The flu clinic had seen many cases of infectious disease.
  • It was a story as old as time.
  • The sports car drove the long and winding road.
  • Saturday became a cool, wet afternoon.

Verb Phrases

A verb phrase consists of a verb and all its modifiers.

Here are examples:

  • He was waiting for the rain to stop.
  • She was upset when it didn't boil.
  • You have been sleeping for a long time.
  • You might enjoy a massage.
  • He was eager to eat dinner.

Gerund Phrases

A gerund phrase is simply a noun phrase that starts with a gerund.

Examples include:

  • Taking my dog for a walk is fun.
  • Walking in the rain can be difficult.
  • Strolling along a beach at sunset is romantic.
  • Getting a promotion is exciting.
  • Signing autographs takes time.
  • Going for ice cream is a real treat.
  • Singing for his supper was how he earned his keep.
  • Getting a sore back was the result of the golf game.
  • Pulling an all-nighter did not improve his test scores.
  • Sailing into the sunset was the perfect end to the book.

Infinitive Phrases

An infinitive phrase is a noun phrase that begins with an infinitive verb.

Here are some examples:

  • To make lemonade, you have to start with lemons.
  • I tried to see the stage, but I was too short.
  • She organized a boycott to make a statement.
  • To see Niagara Falls is mind-boggling.
  • He really needs to get his priorities in order.
  • The company decided to reduce hours for everyone.
  • To donate time or money is an honorable thing.
  • I went to Spain to study the language and culture.

Appositive Phrases

An appositive phrase restates and defines a noun. It consists of one or more words.

Examples are:

  • My favorite pastime, needlepoint, surprises some people.
  • Her horse, an Arabian, was her pride and joy.
  • My wife, the love of my life, is also my best friend.
  • A cheetah, the fastest land animal, can run 70 miles an hour.
  • My idea, a recycling bin for the office, was accepted by the boss.
  • The Florida panther, the state animal of Florida, is an endangered species.
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Participial Phrases

A participial phrase begins with a past or present participle.

Examples are:

  • Washed with my clothes, my cell phone no longer worked.
  • Knowing what I know now, I wish I had never come here.
  • I am really excited, considering all the people that will be there.
  • We are looking forward to the movie, having seen the trailer last week.
  • Grinning from ear to ear, she accepted her award.
  • The happy dog ran the entire length of the park, pausing only to sniff the dandelions.
  • Painted a brilliant white, the small room appeared bigger.
  • The lake, frozen over all winter, was finally thawing.

Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and can act as a noun, an adjective or an adverb.

Examples are:

  • The book was on the table.
  • We camped by the brook.
  • He knew it was over the rainbow.
  • She was lost in the dark of night.
  • He was between a rock and a hard place.
  • I waited for a while.
  • She smelled of strawberries and cream.
  • He won the challenge against all odds.

Absolute Phrases

An absolute phrase has a subject, but not an action verb, so it cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. It modifies the whole sentence, not just a noun.

Examples are:

  • His tail between his legs, the dog walked out the door.
  • Picnic basket in hand, she set off for her date.
  • The guys attacked the pile of nachos, their fingers getting the last bit of cheese off the plate.
  • Their heads hanging down, the whole group apologized.
  • The entire team, their uniforms muddy and stained, shouted for joy.

These are just a few examples of the eight different kinds of phrases. For further information and examples of each type click on the links in each section.