Groupe de mots

French Phrase

A phrase (un groupe de mots) is a group of words that form a meaningful unit within a clause. It doesn't have much meaning on its own without other phrases surrounding it.

Note: A "phrase" is not the same as une phrase, which is the French translation of sentence

There are several different types of phrases:

  • Noun phrase (groupe nominal) - built around a noun: 
    • Un grand vase de roses était sur la table. - A big vase of roses was on the table.

  • Verb phrase (groupe verbal) - the verbal part of a clause:
    • Nous allons visiter Madrid en avril. - We are going to visit Madrid in April.

  • Adjectival phrase (groupe adjectival) - built around an adjective:
    • Je suis arrivé à la gare, heureux de la revoir. - I arrived at the station, happy to see it again.

  • Adverbial phrase (groupe adverbial) - built around an adverb:
    • Notre entreprise doit se redresser le plus vite possible. - Our company must recover as quickly as possible.

  • Prepositional phrase (groupe prépositionnel) - a preposition introduces one of the other types of phrase:
    • Le chat s'est assis sur le paillasson. - The cat sat on the mat.
      Sur le paillasson is a prepositional noun phrase (un groupe nominal prépositionnel).

Note that in English, a "phrase" is often a group of words that have a particular meaning when used together, for example: garder un œil sur (to keep an eye on). This type of phrase is more correctly known as an "idiom" or "idiomatic expression" (un idiotisme or une expression idiomatique).