Writing 101F -- Grammar Help -- Western Grammar On-line

Return to Western Grammar Main Menu

Module 2 -- Advanced Sentence Structure -- Lesson Selection

2.1 Prepositional Phrases
2.2 Participial Phrases
2.3 Types of Subject
2.4 Types of Subordinate Clauses
2.5 Parallelism
2.6 Basic Sentence Types

Quiz -- Prepositional Phrases
Quiz -- Participial Phrases
Quiz -- Types of Subject
Quiz -- Types of Subordinate Clauses
Quiz -- Parallelism
Test -- Module 2 (available in lab version)

Use BACK button to return to this menu

2.1 Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase results from the combination of a preposition and a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun. A prepositional phrase can modify a noun, a verb, or a clause.



    1. The ugly bear chased Goldilocks into the woods. <modifies the verb>
    2. In conclusion, the company has made a substantial profit. <modifies a clause>
    3. The president of the bank wants the money. <modifies a noun>
    4. The police are searching behind the house. <modifies the verb>
    5. Above all, be true to yourself. <modifies a clause>


End of the Lesson on Prepositional Phrases



2.2 Participial Phrases


A participial phrase is a predicate-type phrase which has a present or past participle as its main verb. If it contains auxiliaries, all the auxiliaries are also participles.



    1. Having been barred from the office, Jack took to drinking.
    2. Tara saw the truck, veering to its right.
    3. By driving to the side of the road, we avoided the truck.
    4. While relaxing on the verandah, Jim saw the bull attack the man.
    5. Jane saw the corpse, before leaving the room.


A present participle is the -ing form of a verb. The past participle is the form of the verb which can be used after have (surprised in have surprised). Despite their names, neither kind of participle is restricted to a particular time (past, present, or future).



    1. Impressed by the story, Jane fell asleep. (past participle)
    2. Surprised by the attention, Jack continued talking. (past participle)
    3. Looking through the window, Samantha saw the crime. (present participle)
    4. Surrounded by police, the robber surrendered. (past participle)
    5. Riding to the station, he waved at the crowd. (present participle)


End of Lesson on Participial Phrases




2.3 Types of Subjects


There are three ways noun forms can function as the subject of a verb: standard noun phrases, verbal phrases, and noun clauses.


Standard noun phrases always contain a noun as the main word. They

may also contain participial phrases, subordinate clauses, or

prepositional phrases. When we think of a phrase functioning as the

subject of a verb, we generally think of a standard noun phrase.





A. The cat in the hat ate a rat.

B. Many problems with which we were confronted had simple solutions.

C. For example, the animal sleeping outside was given a home.

D. The first solution we tried did not work.

  1. A woman whom we admired was appointed to the post.


Verbal phrases (using an infinitive, a gerund, or a participle--sometimes called verbals) are phrases in which the main word is a verb. There are two types of verbal phrases which can function as subjects: participial phrases and infinitive phrases. Participial phrases which function as subjects are known as gerunds if the phrase contains only a participle, or gerund phrases if there is more than a single word. Infinitive phrases are verbal phrases in which the verb is generally preceded by to--the infinitive form of the verb: to cough, to think.




A. To be biased is not right. (infinitive phrase)

B. Sleeping late on the weekends can be quite enjoyable. (gerundive phrase)

C. Walking is considered an excellent exercise. (gerund)

D. To live a full, happy life is her ambition. (infinitive phrase)

E. Talking in your sleep may annoy people. (gerundive phrase)



Subordinate clauses can also be used as subjects. Subordinate clauses

which function as subjects are traditionally known as noun clauses.




A. What the lady does is none of your business.

B. That the executive does not understand the problem is clear.

C. Therefore, how he will proceed remains unknown.

D. That no one else is competent has become apparent.

E. How she will go about the task should be everyone's concern.


End of the Lesson on Types of Subjects




2.4 Types of Subordinate Clause


There are three basic kinds of subordinate clauses: adjectival

(or relative), adverbial, and verbal.


Adjectival, or relative, subordinate clauses modify nouns or

noun phrases. They generally begin with the relative pronouns

who, whom, which, or that.





A. The cat that ate the rat died.

B. All of the goals can be accomplished through procedures

which we have developed.

C. The man whom she loved killed the rat.

D. The writer who was obsessed with rats had his book published.

  1. The objectives which were stipulated in the memorandum are no longer relevant.


Adverbial subordinate clauses begin with subordinate conjunctions.

They modify verbs and clauses.





A. The examples became boring when he ran out of ideas.

B. Some students left the room before the class was over.

C. While the experiment was taking place, no one spoke.

D. Once the scientists discover the causes, we may be able

to develop effective treatments.

E. Because of the hard work of the employees, the store

was a success.


Verbal subordinate clauses begin with that, how or what, and follow

verbs such as believe, know, understand, think, say and state.



A. The members believe that the executive board is not following the rules.

B. The farmers think that they sold their produce for less than its true value.

C. We know how we can develop the idea.

D. Our employer told us what we needed to know.

E. The interviewee said that he did not wish to cooperate.


End of the Lesson on Subordinate Clauses

2.5 Parallelism or Parallel Structures

A sentence contains parallel structures when two or more parts are of the same type and perform the same function. Lists and expressions joined by conjunctions are characterized by parallel structures. Parallel structures are also used for emphasis.


A. To err is human; to forgive, divine.

B. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live.

C. We believe in all for one and one for all.

D. I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine.

E. Jack is nimble and Jack is quick.

End of the Lesson on Parallelism

2.6 Basic Sentence Types

Simple sentence: one principal (main) clause

Compound sentence: two or more principle (main) clauses

Complex sentence: one principal (main) clause and one or more subordinate (dependent) clauses

Compound-complex sentence: two principal (main) clauses and one or more subordinate (dependent) clauses.

To Western Grammar Menu

Send e-mail to: