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.

Collective Nouns used both as Singular and Plural

While collective nouns, which refer to groups of people, animals or things are usually singular, some of them can be used in the singular or plural. If the writer wants to focus on the group, then he will use the singular form. But if he wants to focus on the members of the group, he will use the plural forum.

The jury were unable to reach a verdict.

In the above, the author by using the plural verb were, is focusing on the individual members of the jury. If he wished to focus on the jury as a group, he would say,

The Jury locks itself up for the duration of the trial, to avoid being influenced by television coverage of the criminal proceedings.

Likewise the other collective nouns such as government, teams, people, audience can be used with singular or plural verbs depending on whether you want to focus on the members of the group or the group itself.

A list of nouns that can be singular or plural depending on the context. This usually happens when the collective noun refers to a group consisting of individual members.














In British English the collective nouns can be singular or plural. However in American English, they are always singular except in peculiar circumstances.

In the SAT, the above list of words are always singular unless the context forces the reader to look at the individual members, in which case they are plural.


Pronoun Ambiguity

Pronoun Ambiguity is a type of grammatical error which occurs when it is not clear what the antecedent of a pronoun in the sentence is.

For example:

Jane exercised daily with Rose so that she can stay fit.

In the above example, it is not clear, whom the pronoun she is referring to. Is it referring to Jane or Rose?

John visited the restaurant, had some tea, and then recommended it to others.

James and Charlie were waiting for me at the airport. When I arrived, he got very angry.

When the math teacher asked the student for his homework, he looked embarrassed.

Honey and Rose hugged each other and she thanked her for helping her in a difficult situation.

In the above examples, it is not clear to which of the two nouns, the pronoun refers to. This means that the sentence can be interpreted in more than one way, and some interpretations are funny. To avoid these kinds of situations, always make clear the noun that the pronoun refers to.

Vague Pronouns are pronouns which do not have an antecedent at all. For example:

They know that life will be difficult after this year’s budget is passed. (1)

In the University, they don’t tell you everything in the lectures. (2)

Once he joins college, he will know how to conduct himself. (3)

In the above examples, the pronouns do not have an antecedent noun at all. If these sentences were a part of a larger paragraph, then it might be clear what the pronouns are referring to. But in the above stand-alone sentences, they make no sense whatsoever. We use vague pronouns in everyday life, since often the context is clear and so everybody understands what the pronouns are referring to. For example , they in (1) could refer to the people or even the politicians who pass the budget. And in (2), they refers to either professors or lecturers.

However, in written English, you need to make things very clear by mentioning the nouns.

Defer – What does it mean?

The word defer in English has two different meanings.

1. Defer – means to postpone something.To put off, or delay an action or activity or plan or work.


The winter offensive was deferred by the Army Chief, fearing that heavy snowfall will delay the progress of his army into the enemy territory.

The government agreed to defer new taxes until next year, keeping in mind the economic situation in the country.

To defer is to postpone, and to postpone is to delay and to delay in today’s world is to be dead.

The noun form is deferment – the act of delaying or postponing; specifically :  official postponement of military service.

For Example:

– the policies of military deferment

The Air Force Chief was not satisfied with the deferment of the plan to purchase new fighter aircraft.

2. Defer

(a) – to delegate to another. He deferred his job to his colleagues.

(b) – to submit to another’s wishes, opinion, or governance usually out of respect .

to yield respectfully in judgement or opinion.

For example:

The son deferred to his father in business matters.

He always deferred to his Guru in matters of importance.

The noun form is deference. It refers to a way of behaving that shows respect for someone or something.

In deference to his wife’s wishes, he decided to postpone the company’s merger meeting.

(c) – to submit for decision, refer:

We defer questions which have legal implications to our lawyer.Many forms of Defer


Ode To A Nightingale

                             — John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thy happiness,—-
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O for a draught of vintage, that hath been
Cooled a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sun-burnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new love pine at them beyond tomorrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Clustered around by all her starry fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast-fading violets covered up in leaves;
And mid-May’s eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—-
To thy high requiem become a sod

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—-do I wake or sleep?