noun | verb | prepositional | verbal
A noun phrase is simply a noun composed of two or more words, such as "mother-in-law."
A verb phrase consists of the main verb and all its auxillary (helping) verbs. Consider the sentence "By the end of this summer, my brother will have visited every state park in Oklahoma." The verb phrase is "will have visited."
Prepositional phrases begin with a preposition and end with the noun or pronoun that is the object of that preposition. In the sentence "The old dog lay under the delapidated front porch," the prepositional phrase is "under the delapidated front porch." The preposition is "under"; the object of the preposition is "porch."
Often one prepositional phrase modifies the object of a preceding prepositional phrase. These are often referred to as "tandom" prepositional phrases. Consider the sentence "We saw a bear in a tree in my neighbor's yard." The prepositional phrase "in a tree" modifies the verb "saw," telling "where" we saw the bear. The prepositional phrase "in my neighbor's yard" modifies the word "tree" by telling "which" tree.
Another type of "tandom" prepositional phrase occurs when one prepositional phrase follows another, but does not modify the first's object. Consider the sentence "We will meet you at the theater after dinner." The prepositional phrase "at the theater" is an adveb phrase modifying the verb "will meet"; it indicates "where" we will meet you. The prepositional phrase "after dinner" is an adveb phrase also modifying the verb "will meet"; it indicates "when" we will meet you.
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Verbals are not verbs, but they are formed from verbs. You can think of a verbal as a word that is usually a verb, but is being used as a noun, adjective, or adverb in this particular application. The verbal plus all of its modifiers and complements forms a verbal phrase. There are three kinds of verbals:
A gerund always ends in ing; it is technically formed from the present participle form of a verb. A gerund names an action; because it names, it is always used as a noun. Gerunds can be used in every way a noun can be used. Below are examples of simple gerunds used in a variety of ways.
The participle is always used as an adjective. Participles are so called because they are formed from either the past participle form of the verb or the present participle form of the verb. While regular and irregular verbs form their past participles in different ways, all verbs form their present participle by adding ing to the primary verb.
Note that a participial phrase can follow or precede the noun it modifies. Introductory participial phrases must modify the first noun the in main sentence, usually the subject. Note, also, that when the participial phrase is required in the sentence in order to make sense, it is not separated from the rest of the main sentence by commas. When the participial phrase merely adds additional information, but is not actually required to make sense, commas are used to separate the participial phrase from the rest of the sentence.
The infinitive is the most versitle of the verbals; it can function as a noun, as an adjective, and as an adverb. The infinitive is actually composed of two words, "to" + the base form of the verb as in "to run" or "to write." The "to" portion of the infinitive is referred to as the "sign of the infinitive," but the word "to" is not present in all sentences using infinitives.
Note: The term "split infinitive" refers to placing a word between the "to" and the verb of an infinitive, thereby "splitting" them. For example, "...to boldly go where no man has gone before" is a famous split infinitive because the word "boldly" intervenes between "to" and "go." Many writers consider this inferior syntax. Try keeping both parts of your infinitives side-by-side, as in "...to go boldly where no man has gone before," or "...boldly to go where no man has gone before."
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Identify the type and function of the verbal phrase used in each of the following sentences:
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