Martin likes football. As you can see from the example sentences, sometimes the subject or object is a single word (e.g. Martin) and sometimes it is a group of words (e.g. Our friends at number 29). In grammar, groups of words that form part of a sentence pattern are called PHRASES. So in the last of the three examples each of these groups of words forms a phrase:
Our friends at number 29
are visiting
their relatives in Australia.
A phrase is a group of words built up on a single word. In the examples above that single word, or HEADWORD, is printed in bold type. If the headword is a noun, then the phrase is called a NOUN PHRASE. Our friends at number 29 and their relatives in Australia are both noun phrases; are visiting is a verb phrase. Another very common type of phrase is the PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE. Prepositional phrases always being with a preposition. Prepositions are words placed before a noun or noun phrase and they give information about position, time, and other things. Examples are:
in at up before
In the example sentences there are two prepositional phrases:
at number 29
in Australia
As you can see, these both form a part of a larger phrase. In each case the prepositional phrase provides more information about the headword of the phrase. If the subject of the sentence were just our friends, people might ask, ‘Which friends?’: at number 29 answers that question. The fact that some phrases can have other phrases nesting inside them can be confusing at times, but that is the way in which English works.
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