Do the predicate and the Verb Phrase share the same name? The term verb phrase is used to describe the verb and all the subsequent elements of the sentence that it encompasses. The term predicate also shares smiliar, if not identical, characteristics. What, if any, is the difference between the two? Thanks for any help.

  • The predicate is the head of the clause, a function realised by the verb phrase (a category term).
    – BillJ
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 10:00
  • There is no one universal way of analysing or categorising grammar. Different theories use the different words for the same concept, and sometimes the same word for different concepts.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


The term Subject describes a particular job in a sentence. The term noun phrase describes a phrase headed by a noun (in other words the phrase is built around a noun). The first word, Subject tells us how a phrase relates to different parts of the sentence. The second term noun phrase tells us about how that phrase is built. So a phrase can be both a Subject and a noun phrase. But the terms Subject and noun phrase mean different things. Not all Subjects are noun phrases, and not all noun phrases are Subjects!

The term Predicate can be used in different ways. But when we talk about syntax/grammar the term Predicate describes a particular job in the sentence. The term verb phrase tells us that a phrase is headed by a verb.

The Predicate in a sentence is that part of the sentence that (usually) comes after the Subject. So in:

  • Elephants walk slowly

The Predicate is walks slowly. We can ask what kind of word or phrase the Predicate is. The answer is it's a verb phrase. In English, the Predicate in a sentence is always a verb phrase. BUT! Not all verb phrases are Predicates. In the phrase a talking dog, the item talking is a verb phrase, but it is not a Predicate.


In this post I have the names of the different jobs that a phrase can do with a capital letter. These jobs are called grammatical relations or syntactic functions.

  • What does "headed" mean? Having at its head? Is the head the first word of it?
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 12:19
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo It means that the phrase is built around that word. Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 12:24
  • I'm sorry if this question is ignorant, but how is 'sitting in the corner' a verb phrase but not a Predicate?
    – Caput Ind.
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 8:45
  • @CaputInd. Don't kwow how I missed your comment before. Have replaced with a less contentious example. Commented May 3, 2018 at 13:39

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