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Why noses run and feet smell in English language? A ‘fat chance’ and a ‘slim chance’ mean the same in the English language. English is indeed a language of mystery. From tricky spelling rules to bizarre grammatical norms, there are enough reasons that make English language quite a struggle for students. Adding to this confusion is the battle of phrase vs clause. Therefore, here I am writing a blog to clarify the difference between a phrase and a clause to you.
Why should you bother yourself with the clause vs phrase debate? It’s not only about securing a good grade in your English paper. It is also about the way you convey your thoughts to your loved ones. Did you ever write a letter to a friend? Have you ever let someone know that you love them through letters? Well, then you have most likely written the letter with the help of clauses and phrases.
Clauses are basically a group of words that consists of a verb and a subject. It is the smallest grammatical unit used by people to express their thoughts. In a clause, the subject is the entity that is ‘doing’ the action of the sentence. The verb is the action that the subject completes in the sentence. All in all, a clause creates a complete thought. It conveys an idea or a statement that can stand alone.
The phrase is a collection of words that stand together as one unit. It is usually used as a part of the clause or sentence. Unlike clauses, it does not consist of a verb and a subject. Also, it is solely not sufficient to convey complete thoughts. This is exactly where a phrase contradicts a clause.
Comparing the examples of phrases with that of the clauses, we can see that the former does not contain any subject doing an action. However, clauses consist of both the subject as well as the verb. Remember that a phrase is always more than a word.
Phrases begin with a single word and then gradually develops into a compound sentence. A clause is an integral part of a sentence. It does need the support of any other element to express a complete thought. Now let’s take a look at the different types of phrases and clauses.
There are two primary types of clauses available in English language. The two main types of clauses are an Independent Clause and a Dependent Clause.
As the name suggests, this one can stand alone in a sentence. With a subject and a verb, an independent clause is the smallest unit of grammar. It may also consist of a verb predicate and modifiers.
Some examples (Italics words) of independent clauses are as follows:
Unlike independent clauses, dependent clauses are unable to stand alone in a sentence. It consists of a subject and a verb. It has to merge with an independent clause to be grammatically correct and convey a complete thought. Dependent clauses consist of adverb clauses, noun clauses and adjective clauses.
Some examples of dependent clauses are as follows:
Any grouping of words can be termed as phrases. It is a basic unit of grammar that helps us make full, meaningful sentences. The different types of phrase are noun phrases, verb phrases, infinitive phrases, appositive phrase, participle phrases and prepositional phrases.
The noun phrase comprises of a noun and different modifiers.
The verb phrase consists of different modifiers and a verb.
These start with a verb infinitive and comprises of modifiers.
This is basically a noun phrase which usually renames other nouns in the sentences.
These types of phrases begin with a past participle or –ed or with a present participle or –ing.
These are a group of words that consist of a noun and a preposition.
Are you still confused with the difference between the two? Then here is another example to help you understand the difference better.
He is sleeping on the mattress.
Take the above sentence, for example. The first part of the sentence is ‘he is sleeping.’ It makes perfect sense even if I don’t use the second part of the sentence, right? This is the clause.
Now consider the rest of the sentence which is ‘on the mattress.’ It doesn’t make any sense if you use it alone without the first part. This is the phrase.
A phrase needs a clause to convey a complete meaningful thought. However, a clause doesn’t need anything else. It can convey a meaningful sentence on its own.
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