Showing posts from October, 2014

An absolute phrase

Usually, an absolute phrase consists of a noun or pronoun with a participle and other modifiers. An absolute phrase does not modify a specific word in a sentence, instead it modifies the rest of a sentence.

The absolute phrase can be placed in front, at the end or in the middle of a sentence. It adds extra information modifying the whole sentence.

The structure of absolute phrases differ, and it is better to see examples to understand it.

Frankly speaking, I do not like horrors. One of common expressions which are considered to be absolutely phrases.

He did not want to her to go to work in such circumstances, truth to tell.

Talking about John, do you know that he was promoted?

Look, judging by the ominously lurking clouds, the storm is brewing.

Probably the most common are absolute phrases following the pattern: a noun plus a participle:

Legs shaking, he scrambled on the bank of the river.

Face frozen and heart beating like crazy, she went to the room to meet a doctor.

They were paddling …

A gerund phrase

Gerund phrases begin with a gerund, an ing-word and may include other modifies and/or objects. A gerund phrase always functions as a noun and may act as: a subject, a subject complement, an object (direct and indirect), an object of a preposition or appositive.

A gerund phrase looks exactly as a present participle phrase, but the two phrases play different roles in a sentence. A gerund will behave as a noun whereas a present participle as an adjective.

I like reading a good book. A gerund phrase, I like what? -  reading, a noun - is a direct object of liking, and a book is an indirect object.

Reading a book, Peter forgot about the chicken in the oven. In this sentence a phrase 'reading a book' modifies Peter and therefore acts as an adjective.

Reading a good book is the best pastime in the winter. Here the same phrase functions as a noun, the subject of a sentence.

He had only one desire, leaving for home. A gerund phrase acts here as an appositive (renaming the desire).

His des…

An infinite phrase (3)

An infinite phrase acts as: a noun (often the subject of a sentence), an adjective or an adverb. I talked about infinite phrases acting as objects in two previous posts; today I want to concentrate on an infinite phrase acting as an adjective or an adverb.

There is one thing I will add about an infinite phrase acting as a delayed subject in sentences starting with 'it' or 'there', which are called dummy element (operator, subject). They have only grammatical role in a sentence and are added as the English language demands a subject in every sentence. Dummy has no lexicological meaning in such sentences.

It took us a long time to understand this problem.
Infinitive phrase - the delayed subject of the sentence. Compare:
To understand this problem it took us a long time.

It was absolutely disgraceful to stand there like kids at school and to listen to his pompous harangue.
To stand there like kids at school and to listen to his pompous harangue was absolutely disgraceful.


An infinite phrase (2)

It is not difficult to recognise an infinite phrase, albeit it may be harder to be sure which part of a sentence it modifies.

To eat healthy food is the main factor of any diet.
An infinite phrase is acting as the subject of the sentence.

To eat modestly is another factor of any healthy diet.
The object 'to eat' takes an adverb 'modestly' which modifies a verb eat. Personally, I am having a kind of a headache with an adverb modifying an object but this is English.

She wants to write a book. 
To write a book, an infinite phrase - object of a verb 'wants'.

Peter's goal in life, to marry Jane, is to be fulfilledthis year, at last.
In this sentence, we have two infinite phrases, the first modifies a noun 'goal' and acts as an appositive phrase (renaming or adding information about the noun/object), whereas the second phrase modifies a verb 'is' and is its object.

Peter's goal in life, to marry Jane, to live a happy life, is to be fulfilledthis …

An infinitive phrase as an object (1)

An infinitive phrase begins with 'to' and a verb (an infinitive verb) which may be complemented by objects or/ and modifiers.

To be is a simple infinite phrase acting as a noun, called also an infinite noun.

In general, to plus a verb play a role of a noun; an infinite noun may be the subject of a sentence, a direct object, an indirect object, subject complement, appositive phrase and an object of a preposition.

I want to see you.
To see is a direct object and you - indirect one.

I want you to see Peter.
To see you - is the same an infinite phrase but this time the actor or the subject of the phrase is 'you'.

To win the marathon is a challenge.
An infinite phrase - the subject of the sentence.

I hope to enjoy reading this book.
To enjoy - a direct object of hoping, reading this book - direct object of enjoying (a gerund phrase, but I have not discussed it yet).

Peter's dream was to marry Jane.
To marry Jane is a direct object of dreaming and a subject comple…

The participial and prepositional phrases in a sentence

The act of writing is to tell us something about somebody or something. That is verbs job to convey what is done and nouns, who did what. In English, the order of the words is very important and we know some sentence patterns, but what makes this language flexible, is the role of phrases and how they build a clause and a sentence. In this post, I am going to analyse how some phrases are settled in a sentence, using the sentences from a book ‘Woman in black’ by Susan Hill. ‘The pony was a small, shaggy-looking creature, wearing blinkers, and the driver with a large cap pulled down low over his brow , and a long, hairy brown coat, looked not unlike it, and blended with the whole equipage.’Let’s read about the pony: ‘a small, shaggy-looking creature, wearing blinkers,’ – there are two present participle phrases acting as adjectives. The whole part is a subject complement (modifying ‘pony’), this type is also called a predicate nominative or predicate noun. A subject complement adds infor…

The participle phrase

A participle is a form of a verb and may act as an adjective. There are two kinds of a participle: the present participle and past (perfect) participle. A present participle always ends in 
-ing form (smiling, cooking, walking), whereas a past participle usually ends with –ed (smiled, cooked, walked) for regular verbs and for irregular verbs they vary considerably (break – broken).
A participle phrase consists of a participle and an object and, optionally, its modifiers  - acts as an adjective, modifying a noun or a pronoun. They may modify a subject or other nouns/objects in a sentence.

a smiling lady

a – an indefinite article (determiner) modifies ‘lady’, 
smiling – an adjective, which modifies ‘lady’;

both are modifiers and called ‘determiners’, which occur before a noun being modified. Therefore, ‘a smiling lady’ is a noun phrase with a participle working as an adjective.

a retired teacher
this is again the same pattern.

This lady, walking towards us, is Peter’s sis…

Noun phrases and adjective prepositional phrases

Today it is time to put the knowledge into action. I highly recommend you, a reader, try to write your own sentences. You may check may check them out at Ginger, interesting software – an automatic proof-reader.
Peter's older sisterfrom the lovely scenic countryside in Yorkshire in England isa retired teacher of English.
Let’s analyse this sentence; firstly, it is a simple sentence with one independent clause.

Peter’s old sister– a noun phrase with a noun: sisterand modifiers: Peter’s (possessive noun) and old (adjective); from the lovely scenic countryside – an adjectival prepositional phrase modifying ‘sister’ (from where) which is followed by two adjectival prepositional phrases in Yorkshire in England, which modify ‘countryside’.
from the lovely scenic countryside – starts with a preposition 'from' of an object: ‘countryside’, a noun preceded by two adjectives, its modifiers.
The subject of this sentence is ‘sister’ with the main verb ‘is’, which is a linking verb, th…

A prepositional phrase

In previous posts I talked about modifiers which come before a noun to create a noun phrase. Now, I will discuss those modifiers which come after a noun and a prepositional phrase is one of them.

It starts with a preposition and ends with an object of that preposition; the object itself can be preceded by its modifiers. Objects of prepositions are nouns and pronouns and take an objective case.
over the bridgeover the lovely bridge in the parkacross the roadnext door

There is never the subject of a sentence in a prepositional phrase.
The most commonly used prepositions are: about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, besides, between, beyond, but (when it means except), by, concerning, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, of, off, on, out, outside, over, past, since, through, to, toward, under, until, up, upon, with, within, and without. We have to remember that these words above may be used as other part…

Noun phrase – a role in a sentence

In the previous post I talked about a noun phrase and its modifiers coming before a noun or pronoun. In my explanatory phrase: ‘Peter's old, French automobile’ – a noun phrase may, like any noun - be used as a subject, an object and a complement. In plain English it means that this phrase can be used in any part of a sentence, depending on its role.
Peter’s old, French automobile is in the garage.
The first noun phrase is used as a subject with ‘automobile’ being strictly a subject and ‘Peter’s old, French’ as modifiers: a possessive noun followed by two adjectives; ‘the garage’ is a noun phrase an object of a preposition ‘in’. In English there are three types of objects: a direct object, an indirect object and an object of a preposition.
Consider a sentence: Please, pass Peter the butter. (Please, pass the butter to Peter.)
There are two nouns and two noun phrases: Peter (an indirect object) and the butter (a direct object of passing). I have found the English grammar quite difficult …

Noun Phrase

A noun phrase comprises a noun (or sometimes pronoun: we, someone, no one) and any associated modifiers which distinguish it; modifiers can come before or after a noun; there may be one or many different modifiers which can stand together (contiguous) or the noun phrase may be broken (discontinuous ) where the second part is delayed.
Usually, after the definition of a noun phrase there are given examples of modifiers which themselves are parts of a sentence - but - as I am going to talk about all grammar structures one by one, I will be adding information about that in next posts.
Here let's discuss words which may come before a noun: articles, possessive pronouns, possessive nouns, adjectives and participles and nouns.
Articles: a child, the child  Possessive pronouns: my child, their childPossessive nouns: the Smith's child, teacher's childAdjectives: tall child, ill childParticiples: the smiling child, a running child, a well-behaved childNoun…

The Phrase

The simplest English sentence consists of just one word: a verb and understood subject.

Go! (You go!)

In general, to create a sentence in English we need at least a subject and a verb. There are four types of English sentences: simple, complex, compound and compound-complex. I will talk about sentences later, first I would rather learn about phrases and clauses. This part of English grammar is quite complex.

A phrase usually consists of two or more words, do not contain a pair subject-verb, can be very short or very long and complicated.

Here are two example (source)

After lunch

After slithering down the stairs and across the road to scare nearly to death Mrs Philpot busy pruning her rose bushes

There are many different types of phrases in English, usually named after a word that starts and rules the phrase: noun phrase, verb phrase, prepositional phrase, infinitive phrase,participle phrase, gerund phrase, and absolute phrase.

Here is another list of phrases with s…

New year, new aims

It is almost a year since I wrote the last post here.
Next year I will be sitting the next English exam; this time GCSE in English. And soon I will be writing assessments in creative, persuasive English. Albeit, as I think, I can write in decent English, this year's goal is to sound like an English writer and I do not find it easy.

First of all I need to master my grammar, especially sentence structures. I must recognise and fully understand how to build a sentence using phrases, clauses and language devices to address my reader in clear, yet very engaging way. The variety of language techniques, usage of adjectives, adverbs and strong, emotive words are the clue of the successful writer.

Therefore, I am going to share on this blog with what I have learnt, as well with some sentences I am going to write and rewrite to master my style. My strong resolution is to write here every day, picking up a subject, trying new words or new techniques.

For today, two sentences, the first is a…