What is phrase? I heard that, phrase is nothing but a group of words making a meaningful sentence. Is that true?

And, do the phrases always be in polite manner ? Is there any chance that rude words can also be phrase as well ?

Example: "could you please" ----> Polite phrase

Any other behaviours of phrase apart from politeness ?


Asking what a phrase is is a very general question. I think it's better for you to learn what a phrase is by reading more about it. This page gives a general definition of phrases and clauses and provides some examples:


This site has a decent summary of the different types of phrases you might see:


As far as "politeness" goes, I'm not sure I totally understand the question. A phrase has nothing to do with rudeness or politeness. A phrase can have any type of meaning or connotation. The words contained in a phrase can be rude, polite, sophisticated, dumb, or any other adjective you can think of. Think of a phrase as a building block of a sentence. Every sentence in the English language contains phrases -- no matter what the sentence means.


A phrase is an expression of a few words, usually with some additional meaning through context or history. It is similar to a "saying", which is a sentence that is often repeated. Consider the following saying:

There's no use in crying over spilled milk.

This saying uses a metaphor to make a point. Milk that has been spilled is no longer safe to drink, and nothing can change that. It represents a loss, something that cannot be fixed or changed. To cry over spilled milk would be a waste of time, and furthermore would make you feel bad. Therefore, there is no use in crying over spilled milk, or any similar loss.

Most native speakers will have heard the saying about crying over spilled milk before. People who have heard this before will understand it is a metaphor about loss and regret. They will also have experience with the saying that adds more information. For instance, we would normally only use this to describe a small or trivial loss, so using it to describe the death of a pet or loved one would seem cruel.

If we were to shorten the saying to a few words, it would keep that meaning. If we told someone who was devastated because their football team lost they were "crying over spilled milk", it would be understood that we meant they were participating in a useless activity, even though we left out "there's no use in". We could even shorten it further, and describe the loss as "spilled milk", and it would be understood that we are asking the devastated fan to move on to more important things.

When we take a few words and assign them a complex and well-understood meaning, we have a phrase. To "cry over spilled milk" or refer to a loss as "spilled milk" is not a whole sentence or even a complete idea, but the audience is expected to understand the meaning of the phrase.

  • It's unclear to me what the OP meant by "phrase." In my opinion, There's no use in crying over spilled milk is a proverb, an adage, and an expression, but I don't think I've heard it called a "phrase" before. Maybe a "common phrase"? – Ringo Sep 20 '17 at 22:56
  • @Ringo I was trying to convey that a portion of an adage would be a phrase, and therefore have specific meaning. Not sure if I got that across. – user11628 Sep 20 '17 at 23:00
  • oh, possibly i didn't read it closely enough. And possibly we care about this much more than the OP does – Ringo Sep 20 '17 at 23:07
  • @Ringo I appriciate the feedback - if I'm not writing clearly here, I'm probably not helping anyone either. – user11628 Sep 21 '17 at 19:05
  • I re-read it and it seems quite clear. But i just don't understand why you're using a proverb at all. In my view, a phrase is just a building block for any sentence -- but it seems like your answer is saying a phrase is usually a part of a proverb. – Ringo Sep 21 '17 at 21:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.