Category Archives: Grammar

How to Identify Clauses

how to identify clauses header

Here is a simple procedure you can use if you are trying to identify clauses either in a transcription of spoken English or in a written English text. This is only a guide and it may not be sufficiently robust to enable you to identify some of the more complex clause structures: it is not […]

Read more ...

Beyond the Clause

beyond the clause

Rank order We have seen (Clauses) that each higher order unit of organization in language is constituted from elements of the immediately lower unit of organization. We see that morphemes combine into words, that words combine into phrases and that phrases combine into clauses. There is, therefore, a rank order to the organization of clauses […]

Read more ...

The Function of Phrases within Clauses

the function of phrases within clauses header

Phrases take on different grammatical functions within clauses. There are five types: verb, subject, object, complement and adjunct.

Read more ...

Clause Structure

clause structure header

What is a clause? We represent our experiences linguistically by packaging information into clauses. As such, clauses can be considered to be the key unit of grammar. They are units of information structured around a verb phrase (VP) and, according to some theories (e.g. Systemic Functional Theory), a basic clause must consist minimally of a […]

Read more ...


clauses header

Phrases combine according to set rules into larger structures known as clauses. There are seven basic clause structures in English. Clauses may be further combined in spoken language into clause complexes.

Read more ...

Prepositional Phrases

prepositional phrases header

We have noted how verb phrases have a verb as the head, noun phrases have a noun (or pronoun), and adverb phrases and adjective phrases have an adverb and an adjective as the head respectively. Prepositional phrases (PrepP) do not follow this pattern. They are unusual in that they do not have a head. Instead, […]

Read more ...

Adverb Phrases

adverb phrases header

The head word of an adverb phrase (AdvP) is always an adverb, e.g.   As with noun phrases and adjective phrases, the head word (usually just referred to as the ‘head’) of an adverb phrase can also be pre-modified by the use of an intensifying adverb. Pre-modifying intensifying adverbs We know that intensifying adverbs are […]

Read more ...

Adjective Phrases

adjective phrases header

Adjective as ‘head’ As the name implies, adjective phrases (AdjP) have an adjective as the head word, e.g. Like noun phrases, the head adjective in an adjective phrase can also receive pre-modification through the use of an intensifying adverb. Pre-modifying intensifying adverbs We know that intensifying adverbs are capable of modifying gradable adjectives. For example, […]

Read more ...

Noun Phrases

noun phrases header

Noun as ‘head’ As with verb phrases, noun phrases (NP) must consist minimally of a head word. This may be either a noun or a pronoun, e.g.   The head in noun phrases may also receive pre-modification. There are five main ways this may be achieved. It may be pre-modified by (1) identifiers, (2) numerals, […]

Read more ...

Verb Phrases

verb phrases header

The simplest verb phrase (VP) consists of just a head verb, which is always a lexical verb. So, in the utterance the boy hugged the dog, the verb phrase is simply the head lexical verb hugged. This can be represented diagrammatically by using what is known as a tree diagram. The head lexical verb in […]

Read more ...