Lesson: Parts of Speech - Phrases

Comment on Parts of Speech - Phrases

its really good
gmat-admin's picture

Thanks for taking the time to say that!

Hello Admin,

I have a little query regarding infinitive . The query is whether I should use happy or happily in the below 2 sentences and the logic to decide the same.
1. To live ( happily/ happy ) is what everyone wants.
2. Everyone wants to live ( happy/happily)..

Thanks ,

gmat-admin's picture

In both cases (within the infinitive phrase) we are describing the manner in which one lives (verb). So, in both cases, we need the adverb "happily"

Thanks for all your vids, it's really helpfull! I just would like to know if your vids cover everything we need to succeed in the sentence correction part ? Thanks
gmat-admin's picture

Yes, these videos cover everything you need to know.

Great Videos ! Thank you for helping us to overcome fear of gmat.

Brilliant videos!
Includes all tits and bits of error which have to be avoided on GMAT.

You are awesome man! Thankyou for helping the community. God bless you and your team.


gmat-admin's picture

Yes, that's correct.

cool. Thanks for the clarification and the videos. U bet they are helpful. Cheers!

HI can u please help me understand the difference between a particple phrase and a gerund phrase.
Ex : Sensing danger ,Claudette slowly reached for her tooth brush .
Why is sensing danger not a gerund phrase as it begings with " ING ". Here you said it acts as an adjective and modifies Claudette whereas in the sentence Smoking cigars has become a status symbol the word smoking cigars acts as a noun . Why ??
gmat-admin's picture

It comes down to context.

For example, "playing" can act as either a gerund or a participle. It's up to you to examine the context in which the word appears to determine whether "playing" is acting as a noun or a modifier.

Jane enjoys playing (noun)

Playing in the garden, Jane spotted a spider (participial modifier)

This requirement for the reader to determine context occurs often in English. For example, in the sentence "All roads lead to Rome.", does "lead" refer to the heavy metal "lead" or to the verb "lead" that means to go in a certain direction. Context, context, context.

As we know, the participial phrase modifies just noun (jane), so playing is a participle phrase. But gerund phrase functions as noun, subject & object so can't we say playing act as noun?? would you please explain this one? I am just mixing both.
gmat-admin's picture

PLAYING can function as either a gerund or a participle. It's all about context.

Some examples:
Jane enjoys TENNIS (tennis is a noun. It's a sport/activity)
Jane enjoys GAME OF THRONES (noun/TV show)
Jane enjoys SKIING (noun/sport/activity)
Jane enjoys PLAYING in the garden (noun/sport/activity)

Jane, PLAYING in the garden, was unaware of the nearby wolf. (adjective telling us more about Jane).
COVERED in dirt, Jane announced her desire to dig a big hole in the yard (adjective telling us more about Jane).

Does that help?


Thanks a ton.got it

Got it. Thanks for the explanation again

Sir, I can't understand gerund phrase and participial Phrase clearly.Help me
gmat-admin's picture

I answered that question 3 posts up.

Is there a list of all Participles not ending with -ed and -ing?
gmat-admin's picture

I've spent the last 20 minutes looking for such a list, and haven't found one. I'll try to find one. In the meantime, if you find one, please let me know.

Will this be a decent and appropriate reference point: https://jakubmarian.com/english-verbs-that-are-the-same-in-the-present-tense-and-the-past-tense/
gmat-admin's picture

Definitely a good place to start.

Refer to 07:02 time mark in the video.
It is said that an adverb can be used to modify a gerund.
Can we use the same analogy and use an adjective to modify gerund?
For example can we say : Smoking fat Cigars has become a status symbol.
Here I tried using 'fat' to modify 'Smoking'.
gmat-admin's picture

I wouldn't worry about this aspect of gerunds. The truth of the matter is that words that modify gerunds can be both adjectives and adverbs. This should make sense since gerunds are created by adding "ing" to verbs.

I mention in the video that it's fine to have obvious adverbs (like "quickly") modifying gerunds (even though gerunds are nouns) so that people don't view this as a grammatical error.

The actual mechanics of whether something modifying a gerund is an adverb or adjective is pretty subjective, so the GMAT will not test you on this. More on this here: https://www.reddit.com/r/grammar/comments/4wtxyk/adjectives_modifying_a_...

Refer to 10:12 time mark in the video.
In the example 'Kyle's ambition is to win the sate lottery", what is the clue to identify the the infinitive phrase as a noun? Would it become an adverb if it was placed as an infinitive phrase of the first example? For example, Ismet's decision is to win the state lottery.
gmat-admin's picture

This is a pretty esoteric aspect of infinitive phrases, which wouldn't be tested on the GMAT.

That said, in the 3rd sentence, the word "is" serves to equate "ambition" (a noun) with winning the state lottery. So, the infinitive phrase "to win the state lottery" must also be a noun.

In the Ismet example, the infinitive phrase "to appoint his parakeet" is touching the noun "decision." So, in this case, "to appoint his parakeet" is modifying the word decision.

If were to write "Ismet's decision is to appoint his parakeet," then "to appoint his parakeet" would be behaving as an adjective.

More here: http://www.softschools.com/examples/grammar/infinitives_examples/96/

Hi Brent,
In the example "Sensing danger, Claudette slowly reaches for her toothbrush", would it be correct to say that "for her toothbrush" is a prepositional phrase?
gmat-admin's picture

You are correct.

"for her toothbrush" is a prepositional phrase that modifies the verb REACH. It tells us more about HOW Claudette reached.


Hi Brent,

Do you mean that in the sentence:

I went to school. (to school - prepositional phrase)

and what about a very similar sentence↓

I went home (is "home" also like a prepositional phrase, but without a preposition. You said in the video that there must be a preposition in order to make the structure a prepositional phrase)


Before the example "Sensing danger, Claudette slowly reaches for her toothbrush" I thought that prepositional phrase is optional like participle phrase. But now I am confused because here it plays a very important role in completing the sentence meaning. (Sensing danger, Claudette slowly reaches. - is an incomplete sentence).

In sentences:

Henry photographed the flock of flamingos. ( JUST "Henry photographed the flock" is a complete sentence by itself)

the same here:

The team won without the starting quarterback. ( JUST "The team won." is a complete sentence by itself)

Could you explain why?

Thank you in advance

gmat-admin's picture

1) I went home
Since "I went" is a complete sentence, I'd have to say that HOME is functioning as an adverb, since it tells us more about the verb WENT.
Is HOME a prepositional phrase adverb?
Since it lacks a preposition, I'd say no.

2) Sensing danger, Claudette slowly reaches for her toothbrush
"Claudette reaches" is a complete sentence, since it features a subject and a verb.
It's not a very interesting sentence, but it's a sentence nonetheless. :-)

3) Henry photographed the flock of flamingos
"Henry photographed" is a complete sentence.
"The team won" is also a complete sentence.

Here are some more complete sentences:
Sue ate.
I am.
Ken kicked.
Larry thought.
Bill cooks.
Notice that all of the above sentences include a subject and verb.

Does that help?


Thank you very much for your explanations.

After some research, I think I can pinpoint a specific grammar rule that I meant for the verb to be either transitive or intransitive. Like get, buy, cost.

You can't say "I get" without a direct object like in the sentence "I get it"

Interestingly, the verb "reach" is according to Oxford Learner's Dictionary transitive, which means it must take a direct object.

But in some instances, It can serve as an intransitive one.

Like in "I reached farther than you". Or "I reached and you didn't, because you are not as tall as I am"
gmat-admin's picture

That's very interesting about REACH requiring an object.
Thanks for that!!


Hi Brent,
While discussing the Infinitive phrases, in the the example
"To watch aunt peg make gravy, is a memorable experience", we have underlined 'To watch aunt peg make gravy' as a noun.

I wanted to understand how a group of words could also be nouns? I thought that nouns are usually just limited to name, place or things and in this example's case, the noun would be Aunt Peg and gravy

Additionally is this noun modifying 'memorable experience'?

Thanks in advance
gmat-admin's picture

Good question!

That phrase might not feel like a noun, but it is.

Think of "to watch" as a gerund (more here: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat-sentence-correction/video/1155)

Here are some "things" (nouns) that one might consider memorable:

- Visiting Paris (here, "visiting" is a noun in the form of a gerund.

- Graduation day (here, the noun is more obvious)

- To play hockey for the Vancouver Canucks (here "to play" is the noun in the form of an infinitive).

Question: Additionally is this noun modifying 'memorable experience'?

Answer: No. This noun phrase is not modifying anything. "To watch... is a kind of memorable experience." It's the same structure as the sentence "Cristiano Ronaldo is a good soccer player."

Does that help?


Hey Brent!

One question to gerund phrases: "Typing quickly makes earl happy"

Why is "Earl" not the subject since he is the one performing the action?

Thanks :)
gmat-admin's picture

Be careful; the verb in this sentence is not TYPING. TYPING is a gerund (which behaves as a noun).

The verb here is MAKES.

Who or what is performing the action MAKES? The word TYPING is performing that action, which means TYPING is the subject of the sentence.

Does that help?


got it, thank you !
Pragya Pandey's picture

Hey Brent!

In the Infinitive Phrase examples-

Ismet's decision to appoint his parakeet has caused controversy. Here 'to appoint his parakeet' is taken as adjective wrt to the noun 'decision'.

But, in the statement - Kyle's ambition is to win the lottery, why 'to win the lottery' is acting as noun? Won't it as well be an adjective?

Thanks in advance!
gmat-admin's picture

Great question, Pragya!

The key here is the word IS in the 2nd sentence: Kyle's ambition IS to win the lottery.

The IS tells us that AMBITION = TO WIN. Since AMBITION is a noun, so is TO WIN.

Let's look at 2 similar sentences.

- Joe's desire IS to win the lottery (here, TO WIN THE LOTTERY is a noun phrase)

- Joe's desire to win the lottery has made him crazy. (here, TO WIN THE LOTTERY is an adjective phrase)

Does that help?


"Kyle's ambition is ---- to win the state lottery". Hmm my understanding is that phrases can't hold on their own... but then doesn't that mean that the other bit has to?

But in this case... "Kyle's ambition is" doesn't sound like a clause? Is it a clause?
gmat-admin's picture

It might not sound like a clause, but "Kyle's ambition is" is, indeed, a clause.
Here, the subject = AMBITION and the verb = IS.
We can paraphrase it as "Kyle's ambition exists"

Does that help?


It does help. Thanks a lot!

Hi Brent,

Could you please explain when to use "with" and when to use "and"?

Please refer Q : https://gmatclub.com/forum/in-little-more-than-a-decade-argentina-has-become-the-world-s-leading-158929.html

Lets modify answer choice D : selling nearly 90,000 tons a year to foreign markets, and almost half of THEM goes.

Given this modification, please help me understand the difference between usage of "and" in D and of "with" in E

Thanks & Regards,
gmat-admin's picture

Question link: https://gmatclub.com/forum/in-little-more-than-a-decade-argentina-has-be...

I know the link says this is an official GMATPrep question, but I don't think it's official.

To start, your modification should be "..., selling nearly 90,000 tons a year to foreign markets, and almost half of IT goes.

We need the singular IT here, because the 90,000 tons represents a single quantity. We could write: "..., selling a HUGE VOLUME to foreign markets, and almost half of IT goes.
Here's a similar sentence: The 5000 dollars Joe gave me IS more than enough to but a used toothbrush.

IMO, the problem with AND (in answer choice D) is that it's unclear what we're adding to.
If we use AND, we need to parallel things on other side of AND.
In answer choice D, we don't have that.


Hi Brent,
In sentence " Ismet's decision to appoint his parakeet has caused controversy"

Here it seems like parakeet caused the controversy.Can you please clear my ambiguity
gmat-admin's picture

The infinitive phrase "to appoint his parakeet" is modifies the noun DECISION (The phrase answers the question "What kind of decision?). In other words, the phrase "to appoint his parakeet" is just an elaborate adjective that can be ignored.

More here: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat-sentence-correction/video/1156
and here: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat-sentence-correction/video/1158


Amazing videos
gmat-admin's picture



Office Hours

Have questions about your preparation or an upcoming test? Need help modifying the Study Plan to meet your unique needs? No problem. Just book a Skype meeting with Brent to discuss these and any other questions you may have. 

Change Playback Speed

You have the option of watching the videos at various speeds (25% faster, 50% faster, etc). To change the playback speed, click the settings icon on the right side of the video status bar.

Have a question about this video?

Post your question in the Comment section below, and a GMAT expert will answer it as fast as humanly possible.

Free “Question of the Day” emails!