I want to know if a phrase can be a part of a clause. For instance :

Atul did not come to the class yesterday.

Did come is verb phrase in this sentence. But Atul did not come is a clause because it has subject and also a verb in it.

I want to know if this is right way. Is it correct if I pick some words from a clause and identify it as some kind of phrase?


Atul did not come to the class yesterday.

The only clause is the whole sentence, which consists of the noun phrase "Atul" as subject and "did not come to the class yesterday" a verb phrase functioning as the predicate.

Within the verb phrase are the phrases "to the class" (preposition phrase), "the class" (noun phrase) and "yesterday" (noun phrase)

  • I have to ask only this question of you: In what relation does "yesterday" stand to the rest of the sentence? "Atul (subject) + did not come (verb phrase) + to (preposition) +the class( noun)... Does " yesterday " go with the verb phrase (modifying it, 'did not come when') or is it simply an adjunct or supplement (sorry about not being familiar yet with the new terminology) ? Also, if one omits "to the class" from the sentence, will "yesterday" still stay as a noun phrase, or be an adverb phrase instead? – user120390 Aug 25 '20 at 7:37
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    "Yesterday" is an adjunct of temporal location within the VP -- that's its function. It's a noun so its category (part of speech) will always be noun phrase. Note that the VP is not just "did not come", but the whole "did not come to the class yesterday". It's called an 'immediate constituent' and it’s broken down into the various phrases that I listed. Yes, "to the class" is omissible. It's essential that you distinguish category (noun, verb, adjective etc.) and function (subject, object, adjunct etc.) If you don' do that, you'll never be able to grasp the grammar of a sentence. – BillJ Aug 25 '20 at 7:59
  • @BillJ..So I was right in my judgement that phrases can be part of clauses. Previously, I believed that both are different parts of a sentence structure. – Sudhir Sharma Aug 25 '20 at 8:40
  • @BillJ...I have asked one more question regarding cleft structures for focus. Can you please help in the breakdown of that sentence structure? – Sudhir Sharma Aug 25 '20 at 8:46
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    A main clause contains phrases, and sometimes embedded clauses too. – BillJ Aug 25 '20 at 10:35

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