Phrase – syntagme


Let's Define It!

What's a *phrase*?

A phrase, (also known in French as un syntagme or un groupe or again une locution) is a word or group of words forming an entity, a grammatical unity.

There are 5 types of phrases in French:

  1. nominal phrase
  2. adjectival phrase
  3. adverbial phrase
  4. verbal phrase
  5. prepositional phrase

A phrase has a head (un noyau) around which revolves other satellites.

syntagme can be made of several other sous-syntagmes (sub-phrases). Consider the following nominal phrase (syntagme nominal) (underlined for your convenience):

La soeur de mon nouveau voisin est belle. / My new neighbor's sister is beautiful.

Within that nominal phrase, there are sub-phrases. For example, de mon nouveau voisin is a sub-phrase whose head is voisin linked to the sattelites demon, and nouveau.


Let's Pronounce It!

What does it sound like in French?


Let's Have an Example or Two!

Can a little reinforcement do the trick?

We are listing below a few phrases for your convenience:

Quel beau spectacle! What a great show! (syntagme nominal) head = spectacle

Lucie a visité un muséeLucie has visited a museum. (syntagme verbal) --> head= a visité

Je viendrai à cinq heuresI will arrive at 5 o'clock. (syntagme prepositionnel) --> head = heures. Despite being a prepositional phrase, it is a noun that gets to be the head of the phrase, not the preposition à.

J'ai vu des maisons toutes remplies de trésorI've seen houses totally filled with treasure(syntagme adjectival) --> head= remplies

Lucien court très vite Lucien runs very fast. (syntagme adverbial) --> head= vite



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