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what is a phrase

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 07, 2005

In Reply to: What is a phrase posted by aaa on July 07, 2005

: what is a phrase

From your punctuation, I deduce that yours is a declarative sentence, and a false one at that. "What" is not a phrase. For purposes of this site, I'm guessing that the apposite dictionary definitions are these: (From MWOD, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
"2 a : a brief expression; especially : CATCHPHRASE b : WORD
4 : a word or group of words forming a syntactic constituent with a single grammatical function "
I imagine that the purpose of this site is to provide a way of looking up the meaning of well-known or oft-spoken phrases ("catchphrases") that are unlikely to be found in standard dictionaries, where single words are king. If you wonder how many words it takes to make up a phrase, nowadays the minimum is two. There must, however, be a connection between them. What's the maximum? Well, grammatically, phrases are distinguished from clauses by the fact that clauses can stand by themselves, having both subject and predicate. A phrase, in grammar, forms a syntactic unit, such as a noun or noun substitute with all its modifiers (noun phrase); a verb with all its parts and such adverbs as may modify the verb; any group of words beginning with a preposition and including the noun controlled by the preposition, along with such modifiers as are present (prepositional phrase), and so on. But a phrase cannot stand alone as a sentence. More than you wanted to know, right? SS

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