A phrase is a group of related words that form a single unit, but do not contain a subject and a verb.

Some examples of phrases include:

A swarm of bees

has been to London

very bright

too fast

in the valley

Phrases are categorized as noun phrases, verb phrases, adjectival phrases, adverbial phrases and prepositional phrases to name a few, based on their structure and also the role or grammatical category they represent.

Usually, there is a single key-word which dominates the phrase and it decides the type of phrase. The rest of the words depend on this single word.

For example:

A swarm of bees is a noun phrase and the word swarm – a noun – is the dominant word in the phrase. The phrase names a particular thing and so it performs the role of a noun.

A swarm of bees descended on the village.

Here the noun phrase acts as the subject in the sentence, and hence it is a subject phrase.

The villagers saw a swarm of bees.

Here the noun phrase acts as the object of the verb saw in the sentence; hence it is an object phrase.

He has been to London recently.

has been is the verb phrase.

He would have been here if not for the huge traffic jam. (Verb phrase highlighted)

It was a very bright star that shone from the heavens above.

In the above example, very bright, is an adjectival phrase describing the noun star.

He ran too fast, and so they could not catch him.

too fast is the adverbial phrase describing how he ran.

The forests in the valley were green and virgin.

in the valley is a prepositional phrase, as it gives the position of the noun in relation to the rest of the constituents of the sentence.

The following sentence contains all the types of phrases.

He saw a swarm of bees deep in the valley, and they were flying too fast to be noticed against the background of bright green trees.

There are few more types of phrases, based on the grammatical categories such as participial phrase, gerund phrase, infinitive phrase, and a few more, which we shall see later.

Verbs – Inflection

Verbs are words that are used to denote action, an occurrence or a state of being. Primarily, they are known as action words and used to denote actions.

Some Examples:

Vignesh plays cricket.

Shrikanth eats ragi balls for breakfast.

Anil Kumble bowls well.

In the above examples, the words plays, eats & bowls are verbs. They describe the actions the subjects were doing.

Verbs change their form to denote tense, aspect, mood & voice. This change of form is called inflection.

For example:

He plays cricket – Present Tense

He played cricket – Past Tense

He will play cricket – Future Tense

In the above examples, the verb play changes form to indicate when the action took place. The verb can be inflected for all the three persons:

Verbs Inflected for Tenses

And for the two numbers in the Present Tense

Verbs Inflected for Number for the Present Tense

And for both tenses and number:

The Verb Play inflected for Person & Number


Or more elaborately:

The Verb Play inflected for Person & Number - Elaborate

Notice that the verbs change form only for the Third Person Singular. This is true for all Action Verbs.


The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower

By Dylan Thomas


The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees

Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.
The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.
The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

Dylan Thomas, “The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower” from The Poems of Dylan Thomas.Used by permission of David Higham Associates, London as agents for the Trustees of the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas.

Source: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas (1957)