The best way to expand your vocabulary is to read. This is the advice that is always given and it can be frustrating either because a) reading is not something you enjoy or b) you already read a lot. Here are a few tips to help you whether you are a reluctant or enthusiastic reader:
Phrases, simply speaking, are groups of two or more words.
Therefore, a noun phrase is a noun with its article or pronoun and adjectives which add more detail or information about the noun. In the example above, the noun ‘dog’ has been made more specific: ‘old’, ‘tired’, ‘with no tail’.
The two adjectives themselves form an adjectival phrase. Again, this simply means ‘more than one adjective’ Another adjectival phrase which could replace ‘old, tired’ in the example above could be ‘brown and spotty’, where two adjectives are joined by the connective ‘and’.
A adjectival phrase could also start with a preposition, like ‘with’ above, to add more information answering the question WHICH ONE? As it starts with a prepositional, it is also called a prepositional phrase.
Every sentence must have at least one verb to be a fully formed sentence. Verbs are doing, being or having words. In the example above, ‘slept’ is the verb as it is what the subject of the sentence, the dog, is doing.
To add more information to the verb, we can use adverbs (like ‘soundly’ above which addressed HOW the dog slept) and adverbial phrases. These answer the questions HOW (the manner in which) something is being done, WHERE is it happening or WHEN is it happening. Remember, a phrase is just more than one word so an adverbial phrase is where a group of words act like an adverb. In the example above ‘on the rug’ tells us WHERE the dog slept. As the phrase ‘on the rug’ beings with ‘on’, a preposition, it is also called a prepositional phrase.
Other useful terms:
Definite article: the – refers to a particular noun
The man entered the room.
Indefinite article: a / an – refers to any noun, or it is not important which noun
A dog ran across the road.
Possessive Pronoun: my, your, his, her, our, their
These show ownership of the noun, e.g. my old shoe, his football.
Relative pronoun: that, who, whom, whose, or which
These can introduce adverbial and adjectival phrases, e.g. the book that everyone was talking about…, his sister who was always late…
The subject of the sentence (shown in bold below) is the person or thing which is doing, being or having the verb.
The boy kicked the ball.
The girl was seven years old.
I had no money.
Education is very important.