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Phrases and

Clauses
...the basic
components of
writing
These chapters are best
viewed using Firefox.
Internet Explorer causes
misalignments and bad
formatting. David
McMurrey

Clauses at play

Phrases and clausesalong


with parts of speech and parts
of sentencesare the basic
components of sentences. We
fit these things together in
infinite ways to create an
infinite variety of sentences
rather like parts of a highly
complicated home
entertainment system.

All about Phrases


A phrase is two or more words
that lack some semblance of
both a subject and verb. This
rather vague definition will be
clearer when you see the
definition of clauses and
examples of them.
Noun phrase. A noun and all
its modifiers (articles,

adjectives, adverbs modifying


those adjectives). Some
grammarians include
prepositions that modify the
noun.
Noun phrase: An entirely new
culture emerges when people
can work together to build
a wiki.
Phrase:

A phrase is a group of related words that does not include a subject and verb.

Verb phrase. The parts of the


verb that function as the
grammatical verb of an
independent or dependent
clause.
Verb phrases: People have
said that creating a
standard for wikis would
bea good idea, and many
proposals have been
made for standardizing
various aspects of wikis,
but none have taken hold.
Anybody can recognize a oneword verb. The verb phrases in
this compound sentence (yes,
three independent clauses)
show you a nice range of
examples.
Prepositional phrase. A
phrase made up of a
preposition, and the phrase or
clause that acts as its object.
Prepositional phrase: One of
the best ways to understand
wikis is to see how wikis
are different from many
other tools for Internet-

based communication such as


e-mail, blogs, bulletin
boards, forums, content
management systems, and Web
publishing systems.
Three prepositional phrases
here. (The dictionary doesn't
want to commit whethersuch
as is a preposition; it certainly
functions like one). Notice that
the phrase to see how wikis
are different... is not a
preposition; it is an infinitive
because it contains the
verb see.
Infinitive and infinitive
phrase. An infinitive is a
phrase in its own right: to plus
a verb, for example, to read.
However, an infinitive phrase
can also be the infinitive plus
any phrase or clause associated
with it.
Infinitive phrase: One of the
fastest ways to get an
understanding of wikisis to
see how wikis are different
from many other tools for
Internet-based
communication such as email, blogs, bulletin
boards, forums, content
management systems, and Web
publishing systems.
The second infinitive phrase
contains an adverb
clause: how...systems.
A gerbil pretending to be a noun

Gerund and gerund


phrase. A gerund is an
-ing form of a verb functioning
as a noun in a sentence. A
gerund phrase is the gerund
plus any phrase or clause
associated with it.
Gerund: Between 2004 to
2006, entrepreneurs noticed
the market opportunity
for providing hosted wikis
(also known as wiki
farms) that that would
allow people to create
wikis without needing their
own server or special
skills.
Both these gerund function as
objects of the
prepositions for and without.
Appositive. An appositive is a
noun phrase along with any
phraes or clauses associated
with it, the composite of which
"renames" a noun or pronoun.
In the sentence Joan Doe, our
mayor, dedicated the new
school, the appositive is our
mayor.
Appositive: United States
federal intelligence
agenciesthe CIA, the NSA,
the Defense Department, and
othersuse a wiki to help
gather, share, and analyze
information.
Particularly complex appositives
for example, ones with their
own internal punctuation, often
use dashes as in this examples.

Parentheses can also be used to


set off appositives.
Participial phrase. A
participial is an -ing or -ed form
of a verbnot functioning as a
noun. Instead, it and the
phrases or clauses associated
with it function as a modifier in
a sentence.
Participial phrase: Instead of
physical objects, pages in
a wiki are electronic
virtual objects created by
the wiki engine.
Sentence predicate. It's hard
to know where to put the
predicate. It is simply
everything after the subject
and its modifiers.
Predicate:
Before 2006, the only way
that you could use a
wiki was to first set up a
wiki engine on a server.
also
Thus, to use a wiki,
you had to have access to a
server that was available
through the Internet as
well as the skills to set
up and run a wiki engine.
Sentence
"subjecticate." This is made
up! If the predicate is
everything after the subject,
why isn't there a term for
everything before the
predicate? In other words, the
subject and all its modifiers.
This includes introductory
elements.

:
Before 2006, the only way
that you could use a
wiki was to first set up a
wiki engine on a server.
If you are confident that you
can identify the different types
of phrases, use these two sets
of exercises to test yourself:

Identify different types of phrases


A highly independent clause

All about Clauses


A clause is a group of words
that contains the elements of a
complete sentencespecifically,
something acting as a subject
and something acting as a
verb. The two basic categories
of clauses are independent
clauses and dependent clauses.

Independent clause. A
complete sentenceno matter
how brief. It works is a
complete sentence!
Dependent clause. Almost a
complete sentencesomething
about the subject or the verb is
not complete. Dependent
clauses cannot stand on their
own as complete sentences.
Dependent clauses: A sandbox
is a practice page on a
wiki where you can become
familiar with how wikis
work.
The highlighted dependent
clause contains still another
dependent clause within it:how
wikis work.
Adjective clause. A
dependent clause that functions
as an adjective and modifies a
noun or pronoun. In other
words, it adds extra information
about that noun or pronoun.
Two independent clauses: Ward
Cunningham was interested
in solving problems and
sharing his ideas using his
wiki creation, but he
generously did not patent
his creation.
Adjective clause: A wiki is a
collection of Web
pages that anyone can edit.
Clause:

A clause is a group of related words containing a subject and a verb. In some dependent clauses,

a relative pronoun (such asthat

or

which

acts as placeholder for the subject.

Adverb clause. A dependent


clause that functions as an
adverb and modifies a verb (or
possibly an adjective or
adverb). Adverbsincluding
adverb clausesprovide how,
when, where, why information
to a sentence.
Adverb clause: When Ward
Cunningham created the
first wiki engine in 1994
and then released it on the
Internet in 1995, he set
forth a major revolution.
Noun clause. A dependent
clause that functions as a noun
in a sentence. Noun clauses can
act as subjects, direct objects,
and objects of prepositions.
Noun clause: People get
involved with this
technology when they
learn how to solve their
problems with wikis.
This noun clause functions as
the direct object of the
verb learn. It doesn't matter
that this noun clause is located
within an adverb clause.
If you are confident that you
can identify the different types
of clauses, use these two sets
of exercises to test yourself:

Identify different types of clauses

Exercises
Links to these exercises are
provided at the end of the
sections where they are

relevant. But here they all are


in case you read the text
straight through:

Identify different types of phrases

Identify different types of clauses


A sadly dependent clause

Additional Resources

Definitions of Basic Sentence Parts: Word Functions &


Usage Notes. From theGuide to Grammar and
Writing made available by Capital Community College (Norfolk,
Connecticut). Followed by quizzes!

Garden of Phrases. Absolute phrases, appositive phrases, gerund phrases,


infinitive phrases, noun phrases, participial phrases, prepositional phrases.
From the Guide to Grammar and Writing made available by Capital
Community College (Norfolk, Connecticut).

Coordination and subordination. Use this resource to practice determining


whether phrases and clauses are coordinate or subordinate.

Word, phrase, clause transformations. This related chapter focuses on


getting more verbal room to express ideas or using fewer words to
achieve more succinct writing. Both are achieved by transformations
between words, phrases, and clauses.

https://www.prismnet.com/~hcexres/style/phrases_clauses.html