Types of Dependent Phrases

Why do there have to be so many different parts that make up a sentence?

Hopefully, you know about verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc. and the function each performs in a sentence. I would consider these to be the foundational items (step one) for constructing a sentence. In my last post, I talked about independent phrases and dependent clauses or the “Step Two’s.”

This time around, I’m going to talk about the specific types of dependent phrases such as adverbial phrases, prepositional phrases, adjective phrases, and appositive phrases.

— Adverbial Phrases —

An adverbial phrase is a single word, or a group of words, that modify a verb, adjective, or adverb in a sentence. It is not separated by commas from the part of speech it modifies. It will answer the questions of how, when, or where.


Basic example:

Finally, she arrived at school.”

“Finally” is the adverbial phrase and it modifies the verb “arrived”. If we take it out of the sentence, it leaves us with “She arrived at school,” which is the independent clause. Therefore, the adverbial phrase is not crucial information for the sentence but rather an added detail.

Complex example:

“I love going to the beach when it’s hot and collecting shells.”

“When” is an adverb that modifies the verb “going to.”
“When it’s hot” is the adverbial phrase. When does the person like going to the beach? When it’s hot. Again, this is not crucial information and can be taken out of the sentence.

— Prepositional Phrases —

Up next, let’s look at prepositional phrases. 

A prepositional phrase works like an adjective or adverb by modifying a noun and/or verb. A prepositional phrase will start with the preposition and end with a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase. Here’s a page that provides a long list of prepositional words: https://www.talkenglish.com/vocabulary/top-50-prepositions.aspx

A prepositional phrase will typically answer the question “which one?”

Look at this example:

“I love going to the beach with the biggest shells.”

“With” is a preposition. “With the biggest shells” is the prepositional phrase because it modifies the subject of the sentence which is “beach.” Which beach? The one with the biggest shells.

A prepositional phrase working as an adverb will typically answer the question of how, when, or why. Prepositional phrases are also known as an adverbial phrase.

— Adjective Phrases —

An adjective phrase works like an adjective and both are used to modify a noun or pronoun.

Look at this example:

“The man wearing the tall hat sat across from me on the bus.”

“Tall” is the adjective used to describe the hat that the man is wearing. “Wearing the tall hat” is the adjective phrase.

— Appositive Phrases —

The appositive phrase modifies or renames the noun.

Look at this example:

“The cat, a skinny animal with bald patches, was walking towards me.”

“A skinny animal with bald patches” is the appositive phrase because it renames the cat.

— Summary —

Essentially, all the phrases listed above add a detail or additional information to the sentence. Since they simply add detail, they can also be removed from the sentence without affecting its meaning. It’s all up to the writer and how much description they want to use.

Thank you for reading this blog post on the different types of dependent phrases. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, jokes, funnies, please feel free to contact me. Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *