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Content Words

It isn't surprising that content words are usually nouns, verbs, adjectives, and
sometimes adverbs. Those are the words that help us form a picture in our head; they
give us the contents of our story and tell our listener where to focus his or her attention.
We want our listener to be able to quickly grasp the main content of our story, so we
make the content words easier to hear by bringing attention to them with added stress.
Category
nouns
main verbs
adjectives
adverbs (except adverbs of
frequency)
question words
negatives

Description
people, places, things, and
ideas
verbs without auxilliaries
words that describe nouns

Examples
Patty, Seattle, cars,
happiness
ran, swim, thinks
red, soft, careful

words that describe verbs

calmly, quickly, carefully

words that denote a


question
words that negate

who, what, where, when,


why
not, never

Function Words
Function words are the words we use to make our sentences grammatically correct.
Pronouns, determiners, and prepositions, and auxiliary verbs are examples of function
words. If our function words are missing or used incorrectly, we are probably considered
poor speakers of English, but our listener would probably still get the main idea of what
we are saying. Since function words don't give us the main information, we don't usually
want or need to do anything to give them added attention and the words remain
unstressed. In addition, sometimes we do things to deliberately push function words into
the background... almost the opposite of stressing. This is called reducing.
Category
auxiliary verbs
prepositions
conjunctions
determiners
pronouns

Description
verbs that support the main verbs
words that tell relation to other words
words that tie clauses together
words that give detail to nouns
words that replace nouns

Examples
am, are, has, could, should
at, on, to, near
and, so, but, however
a, an, the, some, any
I, it, we, they, he, she

Not very many aspects of English are concrete, and the idea of stressing content words,
but not function words, is a generalization and not a rule. Not every content word is said
louder or longer, and not every function word is reduced. A speaker chooses exactly
which words to stress based on the message he or she is trying to send.

What Is a Phrase? (with Examples)


A phrase is a group of words that stand together as a single unit, typically as part of a
clause or a sentence.
A noun phrase is a phrase that plays the role of a noun. The head word in a noun
phrase will be a noun or a pronoun. In the examples below, the whole noun phrase is
shaded and the head word is in bold.

I like singing in the bath.


I know the back streets.
I've met the last remaining chief.
Compare the three examples above to these:

I like it.

I know them.

I've met him.


In these three examples, the words in bold are all pronouns. The ability to replace the
noun phrases in the first three examples with a pronoun proves that the shaded texts
are functioning as nouns, making them noun phrases.
Like any noun, a noun phrase can be a subject, an object, or a complement.
Examples of Noun Phrases
Noun phrases are extremely common. A noun with any sort of modifier (including just a
number or an article) is a noun phrase. Here are some examples of noun phrases:

The best defense against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off.
(Anon)
(In this example, there is a noun phrase within a noun phrase. The noun phrase the
atom bomb is the object of the preposition against. The prepositional phrase against
the atom bomb modifies defense.)

I don't have a bank account, because I don't know my mother's maiden name.
(Paula Poundstone)
(In this example, both noun phrases are direct objects.)

The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it. (Dudley Moore,
1935-2002)
(In this example, the first noun phrase is the subject, and the second is asubject
complement.)

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure
about the former. (Albert Einstein, 1879-1955)
An adjective phrase (or adjectival phrase) is a phrase that tells us something about the
noun it is modifying. The head (principal) word in an adjective phrase will be an
adjective. In the examples below, the adjective phrase is shaded and the head word
(i.e., the adjective) is in bold:

The nearby motel offers cheap but comfortable rooms.


(In this example, the head adjective starts the adjective phrase.)

These are unbelievably expensive shoes.


(In this example, the head adjective ends the adjective phrase.)

Sarah was fairly bored with you.

(In this example, the head adjective is in the middle of the adjective phrase.)
Like a normal adjective, an adjective phrase can be used before the noun it is modifying
(like in the first two examples above) or after the noun it is modifying (like in the last
example).
More Examples of Adjective Phrases
Here are some more examples of adjective phrases (with the head adjectives in bold):

The extremely tired lioness is losing patience with her overly enthusiastic cub.

My mother was fairly unhappy with the service.

Her baking always smells very tempting.

The consequences of agreeing were far too serious.

The dog covered in mud looked pleased with himself.

Adjective Phrases Can Be Used Attributively or Predicatively


An adjective phrase can be an attributive adjective or a predicative adjective.
Attributive Adjective. An attributive adjective is one that sits inside the noun phrase of
the noun it modifies. Look at these two examples:

The beautifully carved frames are worth more than the painting.
(This is an attributive adjective phrase. It sits inside the noun phrase The
beautifully carved frames.)

The frames beautifully carved by monks are worth more than the painting.
(This is also an attributive adjective phrase. It sits inside the noun phrase The
frames beautifully carved by monks.)

When an adjective appears before its noun, it is very likely to be an attributive adjective.
However, an adjective that appears after its noun can also be attributive.
Predicative Adjective. A predicative adjective sits outside the noun phrase of the noun
it modifies. Typically, a predicative adjective is linked to the noun it modifies with a
linking verb. For example:

The curtains look far too long.


(This is a predicative adjective phrase. The linking verb is look.)

The frames were beautifully carved by monks.


(This is a predicative adjective phrase. The linking verb is were.)

Examples of Adjective Phrases Used Attributively and Predicatively


Let's look at the earlier examples:
he extremely tired lioness is losing patience with her overly enthusiastic cub. (Both
adjective phrases are used attributively. They appear inside the noun phrases The
extremely tired lioness and her overly enthusiastic cub.)
My mother was fairly unhappy with the service. (The adjective phrase is used
predicatively. It appears outside the noun phrase My mother. The linking verb is was.)
Her baking always smells very tempting. (The adjective phrase is used
predicatively. It appears outside the noun phrase Her baking. The linking verb is smells.)
The consequences of agreeing were far too serious. (The adjective phrase is used
predicatively. It appears outside the noun phrase The consequences of agreeing. The
linking verb is were.)
The dog covered in mud looked pleased with himself. (In this example, the
first adjective phrase is used attributively. It appears inside the noun phrase The dog
covered in mud. The second is used predicatively. It appears outside the same noun
phrase. The linking verb is looked.)

A verb phrase is the portion of a sentence that contains both the verb and either a
direct or indirect object (the verbs dependents). Were going to take a look at what verb
phrases are, and then view some verb phrase examples.

Verbs are words that demonstrate an action, like sing, dance, smell, talk, and eat. They
serve as a link between the subject of the verb and information about that subject. The
information is usually descriptive.
In order to show activities that can be done, active verbs are used, while linking verbs
describe conditions.

She smells the pizza. (active) The wet dog smells awful. (linking)

He appears on screen as an actor. (active) Tony appears angry. (linking)

Verb phrases take the verb one step further by comprising the verb, plus the
complement, object, or adverb. Verb phrases, such as "She was walking quickly to the
mall" comprise the verb (walking) and the complement (to the mall).
To learn more about verb phrases see Verb Phrase.
Verb Phrase Examples
A verb phrase can be the predicate of the clause or sentence. A verb phrase can also
be a phrase that functions as an adverb or adjective and contains a verb and its
complements, objects, or modifiers.
Phrase Is the Predicate of the Sentence
Following are some verb phrase examples where the verb phrase is the predicate of a
sentence. In this case, the verb phrase consists of the main verb plus any auxiliary, or
helping, verbs.

She was walking quickly to the mall.

He should wait before going swimming.

Those girls are not trying very hard.

Ted might eat the cake.

You must go right now.

You cant eat that!

My mother is fixing us some dinner.

Words were spoken.

These cards may be worth hundreds of dollars!

The teacher is writing a report.

You have woken up everyone in the neighborhood.

An adverb phrase is simply two or more words that act as an adverb. It can modify a
verb, adverb, or adjective and can tell how, where, why, or when.
An adverb clause which also modifies verbs, adverbs and adjectives; but, an adverb
clause also includes a subject and a verb.
Adverb Phrases Describing How
Examples:

With great regret

In dismay

Like a monk in meditation

As if I care

In silence

With a song in my heart

Like greased lightning


Adverb Phrases Describing Where
Examples:

At the corner

In the world

Through the looking glass

Over the rainbow

Under the sea

By the light of the moon

Around the sun


Adverb Phrases Describing Why
Examples:

To understand better

For making cookies

Since she was getting married

So that I wont get lost

Lest she forget


Adverb Phrases Describing When
Examples:


In an hour

Any time

Before next week

After they go to bed

Never at midnight

After the sunset

Only two days ago


Adverb Phrases in Sentences
Adverb phrases can be used in any position in a sentence.
Here are adverb phrase examples (shown as underlined) in various places in
sentences:

Bob nodded as if he understood.


Meet me at the mall.
Without thinking, he turned down the road.
They must kiss before sunset.
What Is a Sentence? (with Examples of the Different Types of Sentence)

A sentence is a group of words which expresses a complete thought.


A sentence must contain a subject and a verb (although one may be implied).
The Four Types of Sentence
There are four types of sentence.

A declarative sentence.
A declarative sentence states a fact and ends with a period / full stop. For
example:
o He has every attribute of a dog except loyalty. (Thomas P Gore)
o I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.
(Remember, a statement which contains an indirect question (like this
example) is not a question.)

An imperative sentence.
An imperative sentence is a command or a polite request. It ends with an

exclamation mark or a period / full stop. For example:


o When a dog runs at you, whistle for him. (Henry David Thoreau, 18171862)

An interrogative sentence.
An interrogative sentence asks a question and ends with a question mark. For
example:
o Who knew that dog saliva can mend a broken heart? (Jennifer Neal)

An exclamatory sentence.
An exclamatory sentence expresses excitement or emotion. It ends with an
exclamation mark. For example:
o In Washington, it's dog eat dog. In academia, it's exactly the opposite!
(Robert Reich)

The Four Sentence Structures


A sentence can consist of a single clause or several clauses. When a sentence is a
single clause, it is called a simple sentence (and the clause is called an independent
clause). A sentence must contain at least one independent clause. Below are the four
types of sentence structure (with their independent clauses shaded:

A Complex Sentence.
A complex sentence has an independent clause and at least one dependent
clause. For example:
o Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggie" until you can find a rock. (Will
Rogers, 1879-1935)
o When you're on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. (Peter Steiner)

A Compound Sentence.
A compound sentence has at least two independent clauses. For example:
o Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of war. (William Shakespeare, 15641616)

A Simple Sentence.
A simple sentence has just one independent clause. For example:
o You can't surprise a man with a dog.(Cindy Chupack)

A Compound-Complex Sentence.
A compound-complex sentence has at least two independent clauses and at
least one dependent clause. For example:
o When a dog bites a man, that is not news because it happens so often,
but if a man bites a dog, that is news. (John B Bogart)
Coherence and cohesion

Coherence means the connection of ideas at the idea level, and cohesion means the
connection of ideas at the sentence level. Basically, coherence refers to the rhetorical
aspects of your writing, which include developing and supporting your argument (e.g.
thesis statement development), synthesizing and integrating readings, organizing and
clarifying ideas. The cohesion of writing focuses on the grammatical aspects of
writing.
One of the practical tools that can help improve the coherence of your writing is to use
aconcept map. The concept map is also known as reverse outline since you make
an outline of your paper after you have finished the main ideas of your paper. Write
down the main idea of each paragraphwhich is called a topic sentenceon a blank
piece of paper. Check to see if the topic sentences are connected to the thesis
statement of your paper or if you have strayed from your main argument. As you repeat
this process, it will help you become more aware of how to develop your argument
coherently and how to organize your ideas effectively. Here is a concept map template
you can use.
Cohesion is also a very important aspect of academic writing, because it immediately
affects the tone of your writing. Although some instructors may say that you will not lose
points because of grammatical errors in your paper, you may lose points if the tone of
your writing is sloppy or too casual (a diary-type of writing or choppy sentences will
make the tone of your writing too casual for academic writing). But cohesive writing
does not mean just grammatically correct sentences; cohesive writing refers to the
connection of your ideas both at the sentence level and at the paragraph level.

Here are some examples that illustrate the importance of connecting your ideas more
effectively in writing.
The hotel is famous. It is one of the most well-known hotels in the country. The latest
international dancing competition was held at the hotel. The hotel spent a lot of money
to advertise the event. Because the hotel wanted to gain international reputation. But
not many people attended the event. (The connection of ideas is not very good.)
The hotel, which is one of the most well-known hotels in this region, wanted to promote
its image around the world by hosting the latest international dancing competition.
Although the event was widely advertised, not many people participated in the
competition. (The connection of ideas is better than in the first example.)
The latest international dancing competition was held at the hotel, which is one of the
most well-known hotels in this region. The hotel spent a lot of money on advertising the
event since it wanted to enhance its international reputation; however, it failed to attract
many people. (The connection of ideas is better than in the first example.)