In everyday speech, a phrase may refer to any group of words. In linguistics, a phrase is a group of words which form a constituent and so function as a single unit in the syntax of a sentence. A phrase is lower on the grammatical hierarchy than a clause.[1]

For example, the house at the end of the street is a phrase. It acts like a noun. It can further be broken down into two shorter phrases functioning as adjectives: at the end and of the street, a shorter prepositional phrase within the longer prepositional phrase. At the end of the street could be replaced by an adjective such as nearby: the nearby house or even the house nearby. The end of the street could also be replaced by another noun, such as the crossroads to produce the house at the crossroads.

Most phrases have an important word defining the type and linguistic features of the phrase. This word is the head of the phrase and gives its name to the phrase category.[2] For example the phrase the massive dinosaur is a noun phrase because its head word (dinosaur) is a noun. The head can be distinguished from its dependents (the rest of the phrase other than the head) because the head of the phrase determines many of the grammatical features of the phrase as a whole.


Categories of phrases

Phrases may be classified by the type of head taken by them:

  • Prepositional phrase (PP) with a preposition as head (e.g. in love, over the rainbow). Languages using postpositions instead have postpositional phrases. The two types are sometimes commonly referred to as appositional phrases.
  • Noun phrase (NP) with a noun as head (e.g. the black cat, a cat on the mat)
  • Verb phrase (VP) with a verb as head (e.g. eat cheese, jump up and down)
  • Appositive It renames noun as a pronoun and is always placed between commas (e.g. "Bob, my annoying neighbor, is short")
  • Absolute Modifies the entire sentence and is linked with commas (e.g. "Mike threw the book, his eyes red.")


A complex phrase consists of several words, whereas a simple phrase consists of only one word. This terminology is especially often used with verb phrases:

  • simple past and present are simple phrases, which require just one verb
  • complex verbs have one or two aspects added and hence require additional two or three words

"Complex," which is phrase-level, is often confused with "compound", which is word-level. However, there are certain phenomena that formally seem to be phrases but semantically are more like compounds, such as "women's magazines," which has the form of a possessive noun phrase, but which refers (just like a compound) to one specific lexeme (i.e. a magazine for women and not a magazine owned by a woman). it described people,things, places, events etc.

Semiotic approaches to the concept of "phrase"

In more semiotic approaches to language, such as the more cognitivist versions of construction grammar, a phrasal structure is not only a certain formal combination of word types whose features are inherited from the head. Here each phrasal structure also expresses some type of conceptual content, be it specific or abstract.


  1. ^ Kroeger, Paul (2005). Analyzing Grammar: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 35. ISBN 978-0-521-01653-7. 
  2. ^ Kroeger, Paul (2005). Analyzing Grammar: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 37. ISBN 978-0-521-01653-7. 

External links

  • The Phrase Finder - The meanings and origins of phrases, sayings, and idioms
  • - A large collection of common phrases that can be heard and translated to several languages.
  • - An online tool that helps choosing the correct phrasing, based on web results frequency.
  • phraseup* - A writing assistant that helps with completing sentences by finding the missing words we can't recall.

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См. также в других словарях:

  • phrase — [ fraz ] n. f. • 1546; lat. phrasis, mot gr. « élocution » 1 ♦ Vx Tour, expression. « Les synonymes sont plusieurs dictions [façons de dire] ou plusieurs phrases différentes qui signifient une même chose » (La Bruyère). 2 ♦ Mod., Plur. Faire des… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • phrasé — phrase [ fraz ] n. f. • 1546; lat. phrasis, mot gr. « élocution » 1 ♦ Vx Tour, expression. « Les synonymes sont plusieurs dictions [façons de dire] ou plusieurs phrases différentes qui signifient une même chose » (La Bruyère). 2 ♦ Mod., Plur.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • -phrase — ⇒ PHRASE, PHRASTIQUE, élém. formant Élém. entrant dans la constr. d un certain nombre de termes de ling. ou de rhét., qui peuvent générer des adj. dér. en phrastique. A. [Au sens anc. de phrase (v. ce mot I A) «expression, locution»]: métaphrase …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • phrase — phrase, idiom, expression, locution mean a group of words which, taken together, express a notion and may be used as a part of a sentence. Phrase may apply to a group of words which for one reason or another recurs frequently (as in the language… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Phrase — Phrase, n. [F., fr. L. phrasis diction, phraseology, Gr. ?, fr. ? to speak.] 1. A brief expression, sometimes a single word, but usually two or more words forming an expression by themselves, or being a portion of a sentence; as, an adverbial… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Phrasé — (solfège) Dans la musique occidentale, le phrasé indique la façon d exécuter les différentes phrases musicales. Des silences écrits séparent souvent les phrases successives, et même parfois, les divers motifs de chaque phrase, mais ce n est pas… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • phrase — PHRASE. s. f. Façon de parler, Assemblage de mots sous une certaine construction. Phrase ordinaire, populaire. phrase figurée, recherchée. bonne phrase. mauvaise phrase. phrase reguliere, irreguliere …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • phrasé — phrasé, ée (fra zé, zée) part. passé de phraser. 1°   Coupé par phrases. Style phrasé, bien phrasé. 2°   Se dit, dans un sens analogue, de la musique. •   On commence à sentir que le charme de l air, phrasé à l italienne, manque à la scène de l… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Phrase — Sf std. (16. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus l. phrasis rednerische Ausdrucksweise, Diktion, Stil , dieses aus gr. phrásis das Reden, Ausdrucksweise , zu gr. phrázein deutlich machen, kundtun, sagen, sprechen . Zunächst wertfrei Redewendung,… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • Phrase — Phrase, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Phrased}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Phrasing}.] [Cf. F. phraser.] To express in words, or in peculiar words; to call; to style. These suns for so they phrase em. Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Phrase — Phrase, v. i. 1. To use proper or fine phrases. [R.] [1913 Webster] 2. (Mus.) To group notes into phrases; as, he phrases well. See {Phrase}, n., 4. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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