Back To CourseCommon Core ELA - Language Grades 11-12: Standards
6 chapters | 37 lessons
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Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.
How does writing start? When you sit down to write, what is the first idea you put on paper? We begin writing with something very simple: a word. Our writing grows as words become phrases, phrases become clauses, clauses become sentences, and sentences become complex and compound. By knowing how a sentence begins, you are able to create more complicated sentences, combine ideas more smoothly, and know how to punctuate your writing to convey a clear meaning.
It is obvious that we all know what a word is. However, we may not be as familiar with a phrase. A phrase is two or more words that are related to each other. Unlike clauses and sentences, phrases are never complete thoughts because a phrase does not contain a subject and a verb.
Let's look at an example to explain the way we may write a sentence. First, we would start with the word 'dog.' This word becomes the phrase 'a small, black dog' when we add modifiers to it. Notice that this is an incomplete thought because it is only a subject and does not contain a verb. Next, the phrase becomes a clause, a group of words related to each other that contain a subject and verb. We can write, 'When the small, black dog started to jump.' The clause is still incomplete because it does not contain a complete thought. To fix this, we would want to finish the thought and create a sentence: 'When the small, black dog started to jump, we quickly ran away.'
Now that we have defined a phrase and looked at its role in creating a sentence, let's look at the different kinds of phrases we can use in our writing.
A noun phrase is a phrase that includes a person, place, or thing and the modifiers that describe it. It is important to recognize the noun phrase because it will distinguish the noun. In writing, this will help you add more details and create a stronger, more vivid picture for your audience. For instance, instead of writing, 'I saw them,' you could write, 'I saw the young, joyful children.'
You can recognize the noun phrase by finding the subject and identifying the words that describe it. These words may be placed before or after the noun. For example, in our earlier example our noun phrase was 'a small, black dog.' 'Dog' is our initial noun, but the entire description is the noun phrase. It is important to remember that there are many different ways to describe a noun, so there are many different kinds of noun phrases.
Let's first look at the noun phrases that contain modifiers before the nouns. First, you may just have the articles 'a,' 'an,' and 'the' before word. For example, 'the rabbit' or 'an ant.' This would be recognized as a noun phrase. Second, a possessive noun or pronoun before a noun, such as 'June's rabbit' or 'her rabbit,' will complete the noun phrase. Finally, participles, a verb being used as an adjective would create a noun phrase. For example, 'the jumping rabbit' or 'the marching ant.'
There are also modifiers that can be placed after the noun. First, you can use an adjective clause, which is a clause that contains a subject and verb that functions as an adjective. For example, 'the girl that was late for class' contains the noun 'girl' and the modifier 'that was late for class.' This clause distinguishes what girl in the sentence. Next, a noun phrase can contain a noun and preposition phrase, such as 'the child in the car.' Finally, a noun phrase could end with a participle phrase, a verb ending in -ing or-ed that serves as an adjective. For example, in the noun phrase 'the boy asking for a cookie,' 'the boy' is the noun and 'asking for a cookie' is the participle phrase.
As a last step, there are a few different types of noun phrases. An appositive noun phrase renames the noun or subject of the sentence. Since it renames the noun, we do not consider it to be modifying the noun, which makes it a noun phrase. For example, 'Katie, my best friend, was late to school.' Or 'Bob, the loyal dog, passed away last night.'
A gerund phrase is a noun phrase that begins with a gerund. A gerund is a verb that functions as a noun. For example, 'Traveling can be exhausting.' 'Travel,' which is normally a verb, is being used as noun in the sentence. Or for another example: 'I love baking cookies.' In this sentence, 'baking cookies' is our noun phrase, which starts with the gerund 'baking.'
An infinitive phrase is a noun phrase that begins with an infinitive. An infinitive is usually the word to before a verb. For example, 'to sleep' or 'to read.' An infinitive noun phrase could be 'I love to sleep all day,' or 'I prefer to read alone.'
Now that you have been briefly introduced to participle phrase in the previous section, let's expand on this term a bit. An absolute phrase contains the noun, a participle, and modifiers. Remember that no phrases contain verbs. As we know, a noun is the person, place, or thing in the sentence, a participle is a verb being used as an adjective, and the modifiers are the words or phrases that describe the noun. Not all absolute phrases will need to include modifiers; some will just have the noun and a participle.
An absolute phrase modifies the entire sentence, not just a single element. This means it is not linked to a single word or idea; rather it describes the clause from which it is separated. Absolute phrases are set off from the rest of the sentence with a single comma or a set of commas.
Before showing an example in a sentence, we should first build an absolute phrase. Let's begin with the noun 'lips.' We now choose a participle to group with 'lips.' We could describe the lips as 'quivering.' This is an absolute phrase, 'lips quivering.'
How about an example with a modifier as well? Again, we start with a noun, 'fingers.' Our participle can be 'scraping.' Now we can add a modifier that would further describe the fingers scraping: 'across the chalkboard.'
Remember that an absolute phrase describes the entire clause that is joined with it. It is also separated with commas. For example, 'His fingers scraping across the chalkboard, the teacher angrily told the students to be quiet.' Or for another example with our first clause: 'Lips quivering, the young girl started to cry.'
Like other phrases, you can use an absolute phrase to add details to your writing. However, you are doing so by adding description to the entire idea, not just a single noun. This will create an even stronger visual for your audience.
When we write a complete sentence, we include a verb, or action, in the sentence. Sometimes this may be one word, an action verb, while other times it will become a verb phrase. A verb phrase is a verb and a helping verb. You would use a verb phrase if you want to show that the action happens more than once, happens over time, or it occurs with another event.
For example, you could write a simple sentence with an action verb that summarizes the entire event: 'Joe runs in the park.' In this sentence, we have a noun, 'Joe;' an action verb, 'runs;' and a complete thought, 'in the park.'
However, if Joe runs every day in the park, we would want to make this clear to our audience by creating a verb phrase, such as 'Joe is always running in the park.' Here the verb phrase, 'is always running,' lets the audience know that he does this continuously.
We could also create a verb phrase that lets our audience know that Joe runs in relationship to another event. For example, 'Joe should be running in the park at the same time as the marathon takes place.' Here, 'should be running' lets the audience know that he will be running at the same time as the second event.
When you create a verb phrase, you are creating a stronger visual to your audience, as well as explaining the relationship of the verb to the rest of the sentence and essay.
A phrase is two or more words that relate to each other. Phrases are never complete thoughts but are joined with other clauses. There are several different types of phrases. First, a noun phrase is a phrase that contains a person, place, thing, or idea and the words that modify it. These modifiers can come before or after the noun, so it is important to identify the subject and then find the words that describe it.
In addition, there are several different types of noun phrases, including gerund, infinitive, appositive, and participle. Second, an absolute phrase is a phrase that contains the noun, participle, and the modifiers. Absolute phrases are unique because they do not just describe a single subject, but rather modify the entire clause that follows it. Absolute phrases are set off from the rest of the sentence by using commas.
Finally, you can use verb phrases in your writing to expand on an action verb. An action verb shows an action happening once, but if you want to create a verb that happens continuously or in relation with another event, you can expand your verb to become a verb phrase. Phrases are important in your writing because they create stronger details and images. You are able to show relationships between subjects, verbs, and other clauses, which creates stronger organization and writing.
Upon completion of the video, you should be able to:
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Back To CourseCommon Core ELA - Language Grades 11-12: Standards
6 chapters | 37 lessons