What is Clause and Phrase

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 In grammar, a clause is the smallest grammatical unit that can express a complete proposition

Clauses would be things like, "that he made us dinner," or, "which we wanted to say."

A phrase is a group of words that form a conceptual unit. It doesn't always have a subject and a predicate.

Phrases would be things like "my own house" or "get dirty".

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A phrase is a collection of words that may have nouns or verbals, but it does not have a subject doing a verb. The following are examples of phrases:

  • leaving behind the dog
  • smashing into a fence
  • before the first test
  • after the devastation
  • between ignorance and intelligence
  • broken into thousands of pieces
  • because of her glittering smile

In these examples above, you will find nouns (dog, fence, test, devastation, ignorance, intelligence, thousands, pieces). You also have some verbals (leaving, smashing), but in no case is the noun functioning as a subject doing a predicate verb. They are all phrases.

II. A clause is a collection of words that has a subject that is actively doing a verb. The following are examples of clauses:

  • since she laughs at diffident men
  • I despise individuals of low character
  • when the saints go marching in
  • Obediah Simpson is uglier than a rabid racoon
  • because she smiled at him.

    These clauses simply do not form complete thoughts or sentences by themselves. Those subordinate conjunctions--since, when, and because--cause the listener to expect some extra material. The thought is incomplete. If you walked up to a friend in the dorms and said, "since she laughs at diffident men," and then walked away without adding an independent clause, the friend would be completely baffled.



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  • Such a group of words , which makes sense , but not complete sense, is called a phrase.
  • Example- The sun  rises in the east.
  •   Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
  •   There came a giant to my door.
  •   It was a sunset of great beauty.
  •   The tops of the mountains were covered with snow.
  •   Show me how to do it.
  • Such a group of words which make part of a sentense , and contains a subject and a predicate , is called a clause.
  • Example- people who pay their debts are trusted.
  •   We cannot start while it is raining.
  •   I think that you have made a mistake.
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