Types of Introductory Phrases With Examples

Introductory phrases are often used when you want to set the scene for your statement. They can come in various types but typically appear after an independent clause. To check your punctuation when using introductory phrases, refer to the examples of introductory phrases in this article as a guide.

We’ll also share the different types of introductory phrases that you can use in your writing. Let’s get into it!

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What Are Introductory Phrases?

Introductory phrases are similar to a clause, only that it doesn’t have their subject and verb. It relies on the subject and the verb of the main clause. This sets the scene for the main sentence.

The introductory phrase is typically a declarative sentence and is used to transition to a more detailed sentence. When you use an introductory line in your writing, you signal your reader to the message that’s going to follow it.

Types and Examples of Introductory Phrases

According to English Literature, there are five main types of introductory phrases. Let’s discuss these types in more detail.

1. Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases begin with a preposition and include their object. It can act as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

For example:

  • Steve looked behind his brother.

In this sentence, the prepositional phrase is “behind his brother.” This acts as an adverb describing where steve was looking.

2. Appositive Phrases

Appositive phrases are nouns that describe another noun. They usually follow the nouns they describe. But in some cases, they can be written before.

For Example:

  • My childhood friend, Hannah, loved music.

The noun in this sentence is “friend,” and the appositive is “Hannah.” Notice how the appositive is placed after the noun of the sentence.

3. Participle Phrases

Participles are verbs that serve as modifiers. They provide information about nouns and noun units in a sentence, just as an adjective or adverb does.

For Example:

  • After scrutinizing the building, the architect decided that the best course of action was to redesign the infrastructure.

4. Infinitive Phrases

An infinitive is a word followed by a base form of a verb. It’s used to describe your verb in its abstract without having to do with a subject. These phrases often act as an adverb.

For Example:

  • To ace the exam, you need to study hard.

5. Absolute Phrases

These phrases are used to give more information about the circumstances in the main clause. It has all the elements of an independent clause except the verb “to be.” 

For example:

Tim could be heard down the hall, his loud laughter echoing across the school.

Should You Use Commas After Introductory Phrases?

This is a very common question that writers come across, and many writers never come to a definitive answer on it. The short answer is: YES. But there are a few exceptions. It can depend on the type of intro phrase and what you are writing.

When in doubt, it’s best to consult your pre-written sentence. You can read it aloud a few times to see if any commas sound awkward or if they interrupt the flow of your sentence. You can check out the examples of introductory phrases mentioned in the previous section as a reference.

Here are some instances where a comma after your introductory phrase won’t be necessary:

  • To separate your subject and your predicate
  • When it’s a restrictive appositive phrase
  • In prepositional phrases that are less than five words

To Wrap Up

Try your best to capture your reader’s attention when writing an introductory phrase. Guide them through the rest of your essay, and make the essay cohesive. Most introductory phrases provide a preview of the content or the point which you’re going to make. They are also used to introduce all of the significant points you will cover in the body of the essay.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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