The Grammar Rules for Phrases in English

http://www.whitesmoke.com/grammar-rules-sentence-structure-phrases.html

 A phrase is a group of words that does not contain both a subject and a predicate and therefore cannot stand alone as a clause or a sentence. There are a few kinds of phrases.

1. A noun phrase functions as a noun in a sentence.
The old Berlin zoo was established back in 1844.
[noun phrase functions as a subject]

During my last visit to Berlin, I liked the Berlin zoo the best.
[noun phrase functions as a direct object of the verb like]

2. A verb phrase functions as the verb in a sentence.
The old Berlin zoo was established back in 1844.

During my last visit to Berlin, I couldn't stop admiring the Berlin zoo the best.

3. A prepositional phrase always starts with a preposition and functions as a modifier.
During my last visit to Berlin in 2002, I took the train to the Berlin zoo.
[during my last visit, to Berlin, in 2002 are three prepositional phrases modifying the verb took for time and place, to the Berlin zoo is a prepositional phrase modifying the verb took for place]

4. An absolute phrase usually contains a noun or pronoun and a present or past participle. It modifies the entire sentence that it is in.
Zoos being top city attractions, the Berlin zoo is not to be missed.
[absolute phrase contains present participle]

Our trip nearly finished, we decided to spend our last day at the Berlin zoo.
[absolute phrase contains past participle]

5. A verbal phrase contains a verb part that functions not as a verb, but rather as a noun or an adjective. Verbals are either infinitives, present participles, or past participles (non - finite verb forms). As opposed to absolute phrases, verbal phrases modify part of a sentence but not the whole sentence.
We used the last day of our trip to visit the Berlin zoo.
[infinitive phrase modifying ]

Visiting the Berlin zoo, we were amazed by the beauty of the exotically designed animal enclosures.
[present participial phrase functions as an adjective modifying we]

The children, amazed by the animal exhibits, didn't want to leave the Berlin zoo.
[past participial phrase functions as an adjective modifying the children]

6. A gerund phrase looks like a verbal phrase with a present participle but functions as a noun, whereas a verbal present participial phrase functions as a modifier.
Visiting the Berlin zoo was a great experience.
[gerund phrase functions as a noun = subject of the sentence ]

Visiting the Berlin zoo, we were amazed by the beauty of the exotically designed animal enclosures.
[verbal present participial phrase functions as an adjective modifying we]

I always enjoy visiting zoos in the cities I visit.
[gerund phrase functions as a noun = object of the verb enjoy]

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