Phrases and clauses are the two most confusing elements of English grammar. The basic concept of these two isn't very difficult. But for some reason, students always keep getting confused between the two. But after reading this blog, you'll have no more doubts.
This post covers both the concepts individually in detail and then discusses the key differences between the two. So, let's get started.
A phrase is a short set of words conveying a concept but not a complete sentence. Every day, you employ phrases in your writing and while speaking. There are various types of phrases, some of which have a technical purpose in your writing and others which provide an illustrative one. Whatever role a phrase plays, it achieves one basic goal: it enriches your sentences by providing context, detail, and clarity.
It's important to be aware that certain phrases may not be suitable for your writing. Using common phrases can sometimes make you seem uncertain and obscure your message. It's crucial to know which phrases to steer clear of to ensure their use does not undermine your work.
A grammatical phrase is a group of words that function as a unit. Grammatical phrases enrich sentences by providing information about one or more of the parts of speech in use.
A grammatical phrase can clarify any section of speech. The crucial point here is that a phrase only provides some detail but it lacks the structure to be a clause on its own.
Sentences do not need to contain phrases in order to be grammatically correct. Sometimes a sentence is composed entirely of individual words, such as:
It's a brief, straightforward sentence that paints a clear yet stark picture. Combining some of those words into phrases may give you a far more thorough picture of how Sheila spent her time the day before. For instance, you could write:
This sentence is short and simple but conveys a clear, stark image. If you group some of the words together, you can create phrases that provide a more detailed account of Xavier’s activities from the previous day. For example, you could say:
Grammatical phrases are of several types, and you'll commonly see two or more in the same sentence. Each type is named by the part of speech or role it plays in a sentence that it modifies. The same is discussed below.
An adjective phrase is a phrase that describes or adds to the meaning of an adjective. It includes an adjective as well as any terms that modify the adjective. The following are some examples of adjective phrases within sentences, with the adjective phrases highlighted:
An adverbial phrase is a phrase that acts as an adverb in a sentence. Adverbs change the meaning of verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Adverbial phrases in use look like this:
A noun phrase adds information or explanation to a noun. Noun phrases include the following:
Verb phrases are composed of a verb and any linking verbs or modifiers. A verb phrase, like an adverbial phrase, serves as a verb in the sentence in which it is used. Verb phrases include the following:
Prepositional phrases are made up of a preposition and its object. They can, but do not have to, include modifiers. Prepositional phrases include the following:
A gerund phrase is a phrase that contains a gerund, which is a noun formed by adding to a verb, as well as its modifiers. A gerund phrase functions as a noun within a sentence. It can be difficult to understand, so remember what a noun is: a person, place, thing, or concept. Gerunds frequently come into the category of "thing." Gerund phrases include the following:
Can you identify an infinitive phrase? Yes, it's a phrase composed of an infinitive (the most fundamental form of a verb, commonly followed by "to") and the words that clarify it. Here are some instances of infinitive phrases within sentences:
Participles are modified verbs that function as adjectives. Participle phrases are made up of participles and their modifiers, such as:
An appositive phrase contains both an appositive and the noun (or pronoun) it describes. Appositives are short descriptions that define a noun and give detail to it.
Here are some appositive phrase examples:
This was all about phrases. Let us now examine a clause.
A clause is a group of words that includes a subject and a verb that are related. This link is critical; rather than being a random arrangement of words, a clause conveys information about what that subject is or is doing. A clause can often serve as a separate sentence because it expresses an action or a state of being.
A sentence might have a single clause or numerous clauses. A clause's only distinguishing feature is that it must have a linked subject and verb. Clauses have a range of functions in English homework, so there are different ways to structure and combine them.
Although you use clauses in your speech and writing on a daily basis, it is easy to ignore the complexities of clauses in English. Continue reading to understand how clauses are classified, the roles clauses play in sentences, how to mix clauses to express yourself, and the distinction between independent and dependent clauses.
In English, clauses can have three functions: they can be adverbs, adjectives, or nouns. Let us have a look at them one by one.
For example –
In the above sentence, the highlighted portion can be changed with the teacher's explanation, and still, the meaning will be the same.
A noun clause is a clause that takes on the role of a noun, and an adverbial clause is a clause that takes on the role of an adverb.
For example –
I completed the homework without any difficulties.
Let's change the highlighted portion in the above sentence to 'easily.' Now it is –
I completed the homework easily.
Therefore 'without any difficulties' can swap the adverb 'easily' perfectly, making it an adverbial clause.
By now, you must have guessed what an adjective clause is. But for clarity, here's a definition – An adjective clause acts as an adjective in its sentence.
In its sentence, an adjective clause functions as an adjective. Here are some instances with adjectives switched in to demonstrate:
For example –
So which is the adjective clause here?
‘My friend who rides a motorcycle’ is the answer.
1. Independent Clause
A clause that may stand alone as a sentence is known as an independent clause. Consider the following examples:
Independent clauses, as you can see, are neither long nor complex sentences. They can surely be used in complicated statements, yet they are classified as simple sentences by definition.
2. Dependent Clause
A dependent clause, on the other hand, is not a complete sentence. Subordinate clauses are another name for dependent clauses. As the name says, these clauses rely on independent clauses to explain ideas clearly. Here are some dependent clause examples:
To make these dependent clauses into complete sentences, combine them with independent clauses:
In the first sentence, the dependent clause ‘When he grows up’ is combined with ‘He plans to shift abroad’. This is again an independent clause.
In the second sentence,‘The cat near the car’is combined with‘being scared of the barking dog. In this case, both the clauses are dependent on one another.
Sentences are generally formed with different combinations of dependent and independent clauses. Let's look into the details of the same in the next section.
You must join clauses when writing a sentence with more than one independent clause. At least one independent clause appears in each sentence you compose. Your sentence's other clauses dictate how you can join them with your independent clause.
For example –
A compound sentence is one that contains two or more independent clauses. A comma followed by a coordinating conjunction, a semicolon, or a colon joins the clauses in a compound sentence. Coordination refers to this type of combination.
I love eating chocolates, but I know it's bad for my teeth.
When all of your clauses are independent, you can join them together with a coordinating conjunction. The coordinating conjunctions in English are:
A subordinating conjunction is required when combining a dependent and independent clauses. There are many more subordinating conjunctions than coordinating conjunctions, and they can be classified based on their purpose.
A complicated sentence is one that contains an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses, whereas a compound-complex sentence contains two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. The subordinating conjunction marks the beginning of the dependent clause in either of these statements. Here are a couple of such examples:
As you can see in these examples, when the dependent clause comes first, it needs to be followed by a comma.
The use of subordinating conjunctions isn't the only way to insert a dependent clause into a sentence. Relative pronouns or relative adverbs can also be used to begin dependent clauses.
That, whose, whom, who, and which are examples of relative pronouns. Consider how these dependent clauses begin with relative pronouns function in sentences:
The guy who shouted all night made it impossible to fall asleep.
Relative adverbs include where, when, how, and why. Here are a few relative adverb-led dependent clauses at work:
The traffic jam is the reason why we were late.
With this, the basic idea of phrases and clauses comes to an end. Now let's see the difference between the two.
First, have a look at the table below and then the key points explained below –
Does not contain a subject and a verb
Contains a subject and a verb
Functions as a single part of speech
Functions as a complete sentence or sentence part
Lacks the ability to express a complete thought
Expresses a complete thought or idea
It can be categorized into different types (noun, verb, adjective, adverbial, prepositional, etc.)
Can be independent or dependent
Examples: "in the morning," "on the table."
Examples: "She runs," "He is reading a book."
It cannot stand alone as a sentence.
Can stand alone as a sentence (independent clause) or depends on another clause (dependent clause)
It does not have a subject or a verb
It has a subject and a verb
Provides additional information within a sentence
Conveys a complete thought or idea
Can modify a noun, verb, or another part of speech
Can function as a subject, object, or complement
Examples: "running in the park," "with a smile."
Examples: "I ate an apple," "They are playing."
Next time, whenever you are given worksheets on phrases and clauses, refer to this blog. You will face no more hurdles.
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