• A phrase is one or more words working together meaningfully.  (most people call a phrase two or more words)
  • Phrases have many grammatical functions in the clause. For example, in the sentence “They call this place their home.” The noun phrase ‘their home‘ is an object predicate.
  • There are five types of phrases:
    • Noun phrases have a noun, pronoun, nominal adjective (‘the elderly’) or a numeral as the ‘head’ (main word) which can be joined with modifiers, determiners, and complements.
    • A verb phrase consists of one or more auxiliaries plus the main ‘head‘ verb. For example, “has been used
    • Adverb phrases have an adverb as the ‘head’.  For example, “more frequently
    • Prepositional…
    • Adjective phrases.  For example: “far more attractive.”  Here ‘attractive’ is the head and has been pre-modified.
  • Phrases can be premodified and/or postmodified.  Here’s an example of a pre and post modified adverb: ‘very luckily for me’
  • Noun phrases can post be modified by a clause: ‘the house which we lived in
  • Phrases can contain one or more other phrases inside them.  For example:
  1. The name of the story = noun phrase with ‘name’ as the head noun.
  2. of the story = prepositional phrase
  3. the story = noun phrase
  • phrases can be extended with co-ordinating conjunctions or with apposition.

preposition + possessive adjective + adjective + plural noun


preposition + possessive adjective + adjective + plural noun Read More »

WITH + determiner + noun + to Verb-ing

The following English Vocabulary Profile C1 entry: with a view to doing sth FORMAL =  so that you can do something inspired this post as a grammar structure, regardless of the meaning, the complexity of two prepositional phrases with the second complemented with a gerund is clearly advanced grammar. A search in the NOW corpus …

WITH + determiner + noun + to Verb-ing Read More »

within + limits | reach | reason

Here are C2 phrases in the English Vocabulary Profile: A search in Now corpus: 1 WITHIN REACH 20327 = within somebody’s reach = possible for someone to achieve We are beginning to see that it is possible to unite beyond borders, that it is within our reach. TED 2  WITHIN REASON 3721 = acceptable and possible A search for collocates in COCA: 1 ANYTHING 23 There was nothing I wanted more and I was willing to do anything within reason to achieve that goal. Christian Science Monitor 2 …

within + limits | reach | reason Read More »

WORD (phrases)

In the English Vocabulary Profile at B1: not believe/understand/hear/say, etc. a word = anything A search in iWeb corpus for: _XX _VV a word 1 N’T SAY A WORD 1726 Don’t say a word against my father. listen 2 NOT SAY A WORD 756 3 N’T UNDERSTAND A WORD 608 It was brilliant, even though I didn’t understand a word of it. listen 4 N’T BELIEVE A …

WORD (phrases) Read More »

fear the worst

Here’s an example of a C2 phrase in the English Vocabulary Profile that means: worry that something very bad will happen or that something very bad has happened We fear the worst. TED A search for collocates of ‘fear the worst‘ in the NOW corpus: 1 COME 126 2 YET 114 3 BEGAN 59 4 EXPERTS 31 Experts initially feared the worst. …

fear the worst Read More »

worth + POSSESSIVE + while

At C2 in the English Vocabulary Profile: If it is worth your while doing something, it is useful or enjoyable to do it. A search in the NOW corpus for: * * worth _AP while 1 MAKE IT WORTH YOUR WHILE 738 2 MAKE IT WORTH THEIR WHILE 413 Adam Smith was convinced that human beings were by their very natures lazy,  and wouldn’t do anything unless you made it worth their while,  and the way you made it worth …

worth + POSSESSIVE + while Read More »

would sooner + INFINITIVE

At C2 in the English Vocabulary Profile, ‘would sooner’ means ‘would prefer.’ For example: They would sooner sacrifice numbers to save the people. TED The most common collocate or grammar structure related here is comparative ‘than’.  For example: I would sooner resign than be forced to get the vaccine. Chicago Tribune on A search in the NOW corpus for which infinitives are found next to ‘would sooner’ would …

would sooner + INFINITIVE Read More »

Don’t get me wrong

In the English Vocabulary Profile, Don’t get me wrong INFORMAL C2 used when you do not want someone to think that you do not like someone or something For example: Now, don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful to be alive,  and I am painfully aware that this struggle is a privilege that many don’t get to experience.   Collocates of ‘Don’t get me wrong‘ in the MOVIE corpus: 1 N’T 917 2 LOVE 72 Don’t get me wrong, I love it. listen …

Don’t get me wrong Read More »

in no time

In the English Vocabulary Profile at C1, ‘in no time’ means ‘very soon’ A search for collocates in THE MOVIE CORPUS: 1 AT 138 I know this is a big change for you, but it‘ll feel like home in no time at all. listen 2  FIXED 29 Never fear.  We‘ll have Alice fixed in no time. listen 3 FEET 25 4  NORMAL 14 5  FLAT 12


In the English Vocabulary Profile, the B2 noun ‘extent’ is listed in phrases with ‘to’. NOUN: the size or importance of something mainly in some ways A search in NOW corpus for: to_II * * extent 1 TO A LARGE EXTENT 15605 After all, life will always be to a large extent what we ourselves make it. listen 2 TO A CERTAIN EXTENT 14788 3 TO A …

extent Read More »

in order + to | for

In the English Vocabulary Profile: in order (for sb/sth) to do sth B1 with the purpose of achieving something The most common collocates of ‘in order to’ in COCA: For example: Or is the concept of an afterlife just a lie in order to avoid the terror of obliteration? listen   In order for this all to work, you need to completely let me in. listen

had better

Surprisingly, there is no entry in the English Grammar Profile for the phrase ‘had better’.  In the English Vocabulary Profile, ‘had better’ with the meaning ‘should’ is listed at A2. You had better get out of this room and back downstairs right away. listen A search for collocates in COCA of: had better_RRR 1 START 82 2 PREPARED 59 You had better be prepared to push yourself harder than …

had better Read More »

not even

‘not even’ can be used to emphasize that something is not true or didn’t happen. It’s B1 in the English Vocabulary Profile. Here are the collocates of ‘not even’ in the movie corpus: 1 CLOSE 443 It‘s not even close! listen 2 YET 398 3 ANYMORE 215 I‘m not even allowed to swim with her anymore. listen 4 SUPPOSED 164 5 ANYONE 133 …

not even Read More »

at random

In the English Vocabulary Profile, the adverbial phrase ‘at random’ is listed at C1 with the meaning: chosen by chance For example: So we‘ll choose one at random then. listen   A collocate search in the iWeb corpus: 1 CHOSEN 4713 2 SELECTED 4295 3 TIMES 2328 4 DRAWN 1694 5 PICKED 1493 6 PICK 1155 7 WINNER 1068 …

at random Read More »

in the long run

‘in the long run’ is B2 in the English Vocabulary Profile with the meaning at a time that is far away in the future A search for collocates of ‘in the long run’ in the COCA: 1 MONEY 200 2 CHEAPER 58 3 EFFECTIVE 38 4 BENEFIT 30 5 SUSTAINABLE 27 6 SURVIVE 25 7 …

in the long run Read More »