sentence, clause or phrase

sentence, clause or phrase


In some grammar books I see the word "sentence", "clause" and "phrase" and I was wondering if they are the same. I would like to know your answers. Thank you.

updated FEB 14, 2012
posted by nila45

3 Answers


According to Wikipedia, "In the field of linguistics, a sentence —an expression in natural language— is often defined to indicate a grammatical and lexical unit consisting of one or more words that represent distinct concepts. A sentence can include words grouped meaningfully to express a statement, question, exclamation, request or command." In general a complete sentence should have a subject and a verb.

A clause "consists of a subject and a predicate. The subject is typically a noun phrase, though other kinds of phrases (such as gerund phrases) work as well, and some languages allow subjects to be omitted. The predicate is a finite verb phrase: a finite verb together with zero or more objects, zero or more complements, and zero or more adverbials.

"There are two types of clauses: independent and subordinate (dependent). An independent clause demonstrates a complete thought; it is a complete sentence: for example, "I am sad." A subordinate clause is not a complete sentence: for example, "because I had to move."" A sentence is made up of clauses.

A phrase "is a group of words functioning as a single unit in the syntax of a sentence."

Clear as mud, right?

updated ENE 9, 2010
edited by LaBurra
posted by LaBurra
I think that you contrasted them very succinctly. - 0074b507, ENE 8, 2010

alt text Nila

Here is another reply. I'm not sure it adds anything to the above answer, but, my different writing style may help in your understanding. Or maybe not. But I hope it does.

Every complete sentence contains two parts: a subject and a predicate. The subject is what (or whom) the sentence is about, while the predicate tells something about the subject. A complete sentence will also contain a verb. The subject of a sentence could be a noun, a pronoun, or even an entire clause or phrase.

A clause is a collection of grammatically-related words including a predicate and a subject (though sometimes is the subject is implied). A collection of grammatically-related words without a subject or without a predicate is called a phrase (see the next paragraph). Clauses are the building blocks of sentences: every sentence consists of one or more clauses. Note that one clause can form a complete sentence but then it would be called a sentence and not simply a clause.

A phrase is a group of two or more grammatically linked words without a subject and predicate -- a group of grammatically-linked words with a subject and predicate is called a clause (see the previous paragraph). The words "teacher both students and" is not a phrase because the words have no grammatical relationship to one another. Similarly, the words "bay the across" is not a phrase. In both cases, the words need to be rearranged in order to create phrases. The word group "both teachers and students" and the word group "across the bay" are both phrases.


I got this information from this web site ----> HyperGrammar.

For this questions and for others you may ask sometimes, you might enjoy navigating around this site to see all that it has to offer. For me, I find it useful in trying to form or craft (create) replies to English Composition/Grammar questions. If you like it, I'm happy I could help.

Mejor Recuerdos en el Año Nuevo/Best Regards in the New Year,


updated FEB 14, 2012
edited by LaBurra
posted by Moe
Thank you for the link, Moe. I think I am going to add to my favourite ones. - nila45, ENE 9, 2010

grin grin grin grin hola cool smile cool smile

updated ENE 14, 2010
posted by georgia-mari
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