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UCQ

Writing Style

Phrases

Phrases are groups of words that are not complete sentences. Their function in a sentence is to add more information or to describe ideas in the sentence, for example, parts such as nouns. 

1. Noun Phrases (NP)

Noun phrases function as the subject, object, or subject complement of a sentence and are useful for composing titles and headings. Their structure is based on a key noun and its modifiers (e.g., adjectives).

Example sentence with NP as subject: Successful therapeutic relationships are built on respect.

Example NP for title: "Decision Making Processes for Patients and Their Families"

For specific guidance on Writing an Effective Title, click here for a handout by the University of Minnesota:

2. Verb Phrases and Verbals

Verb phrases are made of verbs plus their "helper" verbs. Verbals are words made from verbs. A verb phrase can function as the main verb or action of a sentence or it can perform a different function in the sentence apart from the main verb. Verbal phrases are categorized as participial, gerund, or infinitive phrases, each with its specific function in a sentence.

Example - Simple sentence with verb: Hamad Medical Corporation funded the project. 

Example - Sentence with verb and verbal: Key words used in the literature search were nurs*, auto*, and satisfaction.

Example - Sentence with verb and verb phrase: Some patients are described to be a greater challenge to manage. 

Verbal phrases are categorized as (a) participial,(b) gerund, or (c) infinitive phrases, each with its specific function in a sentence.

(a) Participial Phrases

Structure: present participle ("ing" form of verb) or past participle ("ed" form of verb)

Function: Adjective - describes other words/ideas in the sentence

Example: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a challenging mental health condition for families. 

Example: Families report several challenges caring for a relative diagnosed with BPD.

(b) Gerund Phrases

Structure: present participle ("ing" form of verb)

Function: Noun - can be the subject or object of a sentence

Example: Monitoring and observing participants for signs of distress is essential in interviews.

Grammar Monster has more examples and interactive quizzes: click here.

(c) Infinitive Phrases

Structure: "to" + base form of the verb (to be, to sleep, to diagnose, etc.)

Function: Adjective or adverb (describes nouns or verbs) or noun (can be subject or object of a sentence).

Example: Some patients are described to be a greater challenge to manage. 

3. Appositive Phrases

These phrases help to cut extra words by reducing clauses down to a short phrase. Their function is to describe the noun or pronoun that comes right before them. This phrase structure is often used for definitions, so understanding the structure can help you when you are reading and encountering new words.

Example: Nurses, the most trusted of all professionals, provide essential guidance to help patients better understand their medical conditions and the care they receive.

This sentence is a reduced form of two sentences: Nurses are the most trusted of all professionals. They provide essential guidance to help patients better understand their medical conditions and the care they receive.

Example of definition: A nursing diagnosis, the nurse’s clinical judgment about their patient's health conditions and needs, is the foundation for the nursing care plan.

The appositive phrase (red) is the definition for the noun phrase, nursing diagnosis. 

Example: These behaviours, emotional dysregulation and impulsivity, were distressing to family members.

 

More Information

"Phrases" by Robin L. Simmons, Grammar Bytes