A Phrase is a group of two or more words which work grammatically the same as a single word. As such a phrase can function as a verb, a noun, an adverb, a preposition or an adjective.
For example these are all phrases:
the old man
standing on the beach
The important thing to notice is that there is never a subject in a phrase alongside a verb. This contrasts with a clause which contains a subject and a verb:
because the old man was here
the young girl standing on the beach
because she was laughing
Types of Phrases
Phrases are classified into different types according to the type of head they have. The head is the central element of a phrase; grammatically it is the part of speech which the phrase can be replaced by.
I read the book.
I was reading the book
I will have read the book.
See the main article, Verb Phrases.
She bought herself a house.
She bought herself a lovely Georgian house.
She bought herself a tiny little wooden house.
See the main article, Noun Phrases.
Adjective (or Adjectival) Phrases
You look beautiful.
You look really, beautiful.
You look incredibly, stunningly, unbelievably beautiful!
See the main article, Adjectival Phrases.
Adverb (or Adverbial) Phrases
He came in quietly.
He came in very quietly.
He came in really carefully and quietly.
See the main article, Adverbial Phrases.
Preposition (or Prepositional) Phrases
It’s under the table.
It’s on the mantelpiece.
It’s by my bed.
See the main article, Prepositional Phrases.