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A group of related words that lacks
either a subject or a predicate or
fearing an accident
at the lake’s edge
I. Prepositional Phrases
A. Adjectival
B. Adverbial
II. Appositive Phrases
III. Verbal Phrases
A. Participial
B. Gerund
C. Infinitive
A preposition connects a noun or pronoun to
another word in the sentence. The noun or
pronoun so connected is the object of the
preposition. The preposition plus its object
and any modifiers is a prepositional phrase.
on the surface
with great satisfaction
upon entering the room
from where you are standing
except for ten employees
A word group consisting of a preposition and its
object (OP), plus any modifiers. A
prepositional phrase usually functions as an
adjective or as an adverb.
adjectival OP
The boy in green stood up.
He walked to the speaker’s platform.
A prepositional phrase that introduces a
sentence IS set off with punctuation, usually
a comma, unless it is short.
1. According to the newspaper and other
sources, the governor has decided to veto
the bill.
2. In 1865 the Civil War finally ended.
A prepositional phrase that interrupts or
concludes a sentence is NOT set off with
punctuation when it restricts the meaning of
the word or words it modifies.
1. The announcement of a tuition increase
surprised no one.
2. Students expected new fees for the coming
When an interrupting or concluding
prepositional phrase does NOT restrict
meaning, but merely adds information to the
sentence, then it IS set off with punctuation,
usually a comma or commas.
The governor, according to the newspaper and
other sources, has reluctantly decided to
veto the bill.
One last thing-A preposition and its object are
not separated by a comma.
A noun or pronoun placed
beside another noun or
pronoun to identify or
describe it.
My teacher, Mrs. Boyd, lost her
An appositive and any
modifiers the appositive has.
Mrs. Boyd, my English teacher,
lost her book.
Special verb forms that can function as nouns
or as modifiers.
Smoking is dangerous.
Verbals cannot stand alone as the complete
verb in the predicate of a sentence.
The man smoking
Any verbal must combine with a helping verb
to serve as the predicate of a sentence.
The man was smoking.
All verbs have two participle forms, a present and
a past.
The present participle consists of the dictionary
form of the verb plus the ending –ing:
beginning, completing, hiding.
The past participle of most verbs consists of the
dictionary form plus –d or –ed: believed,
completed. Some common verbs have an
irregular past participle: begun, hidden.
Both present and past participles function as
adjectives to modify nouns and pronouns.
Shopping malls sometimes frustrate
Shoppers may feel trapped.
Participles may take subjects,
objects, or complements, and they
may be modified by adverbs.
The participle and all the words
immediately related to it make up a
participle phrase.
Participle phrases always serve as
adjectives, modifying nouns or
from “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it
should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank
or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work,
or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his
boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the
hatter singing as he stands,
1. Buying things, most shoppers feel
themselves in control.
2. They make selections determined by
personal taste.
A gerund is the name given to the –ing form of
the verb when it serves as a noun.
1. Strolling through stores can exhaust the
hardiest shopper.
2. Many children learn to hate shopping.
Present participles and gerunds can
be distinguished only by their
function in a sentence.
If the –ing form functions as an
adjective (a teaching degree), it is a
present participle.
If the –ing form functions as a noun
(Teaching is difficult), it is a gerund.
Writers and speakers often use
gerunds and gerund phrases to talk
about present or ongoing activity.
The gerund and all the words immediately
related to it make up a gerund phrase.
Gerund phrases ALWAYS serve as nouns.
Sentence Subject/Noun
1. Shopping for clothing and other items
satisfies personal needs.
Object of Preposition/Noun
2. Malls are good at creating such needs.
The infinitive is the to form of the
verb--the dictionary form preceded
by the infinitive marker to: to begin,
to hide, to run.
Infinitives may function as nouns,
adjectives, or adverbs.
While gerunds and gerund phrases often refer to
present or ongoing activity, infinitives and
infinitive phrases often point readers to the
Present Action: Coral-reef diving has long been a
passion of mine.
Future Action: Someday, I would like to dive at
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
1. The question to answer is why shoppers
endure mall fatigue.
2. The solution for mall fatigue is to leave.
3. Still, shoppers find it difficult to quit.
Infinitive phrases may serve as nouns,
adverbs, or adjectives.
sentence subject
predicate noun
1. To design a mall is to create an artificial
2. Malls are designed to make shoppers feel
3. The environment supports the impulse to
shop for oneself.
One more last thing—
When an infinitive or infinitive phrase serves as
a noun after verbs such as bear, let, tell,
help, make, see, and watch, the infinitive
marker to is omitted:
We all heard her tell [NOT to tell] the story.
A verbal or verbal phrase serving as a modifier
is almost always set off with a comma when it
introduces a sentence.
infinitive phrase
To pay tuition, some students work at two jobs.
A modifying verbal or verbal phrase that
interrupts or concludes a sentence is NOT set
off with punctuation when it restricts the
meaning of the word or words it modifies.
participle phrase
Jobs paying well are hard to find.
When an interrupting or concluding verbal
modifier does NOT restrict meaning, but
merely adds information to the sentence, it
IS set off with punctuation, usually a comma
or commas.
participle phrase
One good job, paying twelve dollars an hour,
was filled in fifteen minutes.
1. Laughing, the talk-show host prodded her guest
to talk.
2. Shunned by the community, Hester endures her
3. Written in 1850 by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The
Scarlet Letter tells the story of Hester Prynne.
4. Hester is humble enough to withstand her
Puritan neighbors’ cutting remarks.
5. Despite the cruel treatment, the determined
young woman refuses to leave her home.
6. By living a life of patience and unselfishness,
Hester eventually becomes the community’s