How to Use Introductory Phrases to Write Better Sentences


An introductory phrase is a group of words that prepares the readers for the main idea in the sentence. It gives additional information to the main thought in the sentence, and it cannot stand alone. 

A good understanding of introductory phrases will be a solid foundation for writing better sentences as a student or a professional. In this tutorial, we’ll take a look at the different types of introductory phrases and how to use them in a sentence.

What Is an Introductory Phrase?

An introductory phrase is used at the beginning of a sentence to set up the main idea of the sentence. It creates a transition and indicates that the most crucial information is still to come by introducing the reader to the rest of the phrase.

An introductory phrase can never stand alone and is always a part of a longer sentence. It can only have either a subject or a verb, but it cannot have both. An introductory phrase can also provide background information to the main clause of the sentence.

When to Use Introductory Phrases?

Introductory phrases are a great way to add context to your writing. They can be used to provide background information, introduce new concepts, or simply add interest to a sentence. However, it’s important to know when and how to use them effectively. Here are some tips:

  1. Use an introductory phrase when you want to provide background information about a topic.
  2. Use an introductory phrase when you want to introduce a new concept.
  3. Use an introductory phrase to add interest to a sentence.
  4.  Be sure to use commas correctly when using introductory phrases. Remember, if the phrase is longer than four words, it should be followed by a comma. If the phrase is shorter than four words, it’s up to you whether or not to use a comma.
  5.  Make sure the introductory phrase actually adds something to the sentence. If it doesn’t, there’s no need to use it.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to effectively use introductory phrases in your writing.

The examples that follow use introductory phrases to give essential background information about the sentence’s main idea or main clause. You will notice that each introductory phrase written in bold is used to complete the thought in the sentence.

Introductory Phrases that Answer the Question “Who?”

  1. According to my father, the decisions you make now will affect your future.
  2. The star singer, Maria Consejal, has brought inspiration to the hearts of the audience.
  3. From Doctor Jones’ perspective, learning a skill is vital to success.
  4. The University president, Dr. Harold Fabio, announced the opening date of classes.
  5. In my opinion, I would rather come to school late than not attend at all.

Introductory Phrases that Answer the Question “Where?”

  1. In the city of Burbank, people love to gather with families for a picnic.
  2. At the corner of the street, you can find the blossoming orchids.
  3. On the 7th floor of this building is where my sister lives.
  4. Beside the pool, we lay our clothes for them  to dry in the sun.
  5. Close to the railway station, the new shopping center is being flooded by customers.

Introductory Phrases that Answer the Question “When?”

  1. Last December, my family and I moved to West Hollywood, California.
  2. On May 3, we will celebrate my only daughter’s third birthday.
  3. In a few minutes, the train will be leaving from Washington.
  4. At night, the Barillo brothers often sing beautiful songs of worship.
  5. Next school year, the classes will finally be conducted face to face.

What’s the Difference between Introductory Phrases and Introductory Clauses?

Introduction phrases and introductory clauses are similar. They both introduce the main idea in a sentence. The only difference is that introductory phrases depend on the subject and the verb of the main idea in the sentence. In contrast, an introductory clause can have a subject and a verb. 

Take a look at the examples below of sentences below and compare the difference between introductory phrases and introductory phrases.

Note: The introductory phrases and clauses are the ones written in bold.

Examples of Introductory Phrases

  1. Feeling helpless, she went to sleep early.
  2. In those days, it was common to send letters.
  3. On the train, I rushed to review my homework.
  4. Energetic and friendly, Drew was the perfect pet.
  5. To concentrate, one needs to remove all external distractions.

In the examples above, you will notice that an introductory phrase needs additional information for it to make sense. Although it is helpful in providing more content, it cannot stand alone and doesn’t have a complete thought. It prompts the reader to continue reading to get the whole idea of the sentence.

Examples of Introductory Clauses

  1. Because I wanted to improve my creativity, I enrolled in an art class.
  2. Since I graduated from college, I have become more aware of my capabilities.
  3. As proposed by Brown, education is the solution to man’s poverty.
  4. After we watched the movie, we struggled to go to sleep.
  5. When Samantha’s successful operation was announced, everyone shouted for joy.

The examples above show that an introductory clause always has a subject and a verb. On the other hand, the introductory phrase does not have a subject and verb combination. Generally speaking, introduction clauses tend to set the scene and provide information about an incident that occurred soon before or during the main clause’s actions. They should have some connection to the sentence’s primary clause.

Types of Introductory Phrases

To learn how to use introductory phrases in your sentences, you must first understand their different types. There are five different types of introductory phrases that have their function in a sentence. You can improve your writing and editing skills by mastering the different types of introductory phrases.

Introductory Prepositional Phrase

An introductory prepositional phrase is a group of words that starts with a preposition and ends with a noun or a pronoun.  It is mainly used to add more details to the main clause, usually a piece of information about place or time. 

Additionally, a comma is always placed right after the opening prepositional phrase to separate it from the rest of the sentence if it is longer than four words. Below are some examples.

  1. Before the exam, Josh prayed and thanked God.
  2. Along the highway road, colorful street lights were added to attract visitors. 
  3. About an hour ago, she left with her siblings and went to school.
  4. Under the tree, there lives a beautiful fairy.
  5. At the Queen’s palace, guards are always on alert.

Introductory Infinitive Phrase

You can easily spot an introductory infinitive phrase as it usually starts with the infinitive “to” and has a verb. It is used to inform the reader about something that is happening. 

Introductory Infinitive Phrases can also offer details regarding a particular event and other helpful information. Use introductory infinitives to explain the primary verb’s function in your sentence.

  1. To win the approval of her father-in-law, John worked hard to graduate in the Law school.
  2. To carry out their mission, Tim and the group conducted a thorough study of the virus.
  3. To apologize to her brother, she bought the latest NBA video game.
  4. To reduce our monthly expenses, my mother stopped buying expensive clothes. 
  5. To win the competition, the athlete trained every day.

Introductory Appositive Phrase

An introductory appositive phrase renames, describes, or explains a noun or pronoun in the sentence. In other words, it provides the reader with additional information and helps provide a clearer picture.

If an introductory appositive phrase does not contribute to the meaning of the sentence, it should be followed by a comma. However, a comma is not required if the phrase is not essential for the reader to understand the sentence.

  1. Luna road, a congested expressway, was the scene of numerous accidents.
  2. Grand Canyon National Park, a natural wonder, attracts thousands of tourists every year.
  3. Our kind neighbor, Mr. Herns, prepared a basket full of fruits for us.
  4. Dino’s mother, a federal court judge, will be the main speaker.
  5. A beautiful piece of artwork, Daniel’s photograph was a masterpiece.

Introductory Participial Phrase

An introductory participial phrase has a verb that ends in “-ing” or “-ed”. It is made up of participles and the other words that define the activity of the participle. The phrase acts as an adjective in the sentence.

When using an introductory principal phrase, make sure to write a comma after it. Below are some examples of sentences with introductory principal phrases to give you an idea. 

  1. Kicking the ball, the children ran down the street.
  2. Thinking quickly, she answered her professor without hesitation.
  3. Frightened to death, the little boy screamed and went to his mom.
  4. Whirling gracefully, Andrea executed a perfect turn.
  5. Picking up the injured kitten, we could see it had a broken leg.

Introductory Absolute Phrase

An absolute phrase lacks a verb but has a subject and details about it. It has all the components of an independent clause except the verb “to be.” Usually, the phrase gives further information about the causes of an event.

Use introductory absolute phrases to provide extra information about the conditions in the main clause. Below is a list of examples to give you an idea of how to use an introductory absolute phrase in your sentence.

  1. Despite the lack of practice, Joan still decided to present his speech with confidence.
  2. Completely undecided, Joy chose not to buy anything from the store.
  3. Eyes filling, he kissed her goodnight.
  4. Although feeling ill, it didn’t stop Steven from going to school.
  5. Even in a difficult situation, my mother manages to laugh.

Are Introductory Phrases Necessary?

In some cases, introductory phrases can be helpful in providing background information or introducing the main idea of a sentence. However, in other cases, they may be unnecessary and can even make a sentence sound awkward. Ultimately, it depends on the context and what you are trying to communicate. 

Your Key Takeaways

  • Introductory phrases introduce the main clause in your sentence.
  • A comma after the introductory phrase depends on whether or not the phrase is essential to the meaning of the sentence.
  • Introductory phrases may be used to provide context for who, what, when, where, why, and how.
  • You may increase your writing and editing abilities by learning the many types of introductory phrases.
  • The five different types of introductory phrases function differently from one another.
  • An introductory phrase is not always necessary in a sentence but can add clarity or direction to what is being communicated.

We hope this article was helpful. Happy writing!

Hanna with Tutor Phil.

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