Have you ever thought a group of words could also function as a single word in a sentence? Well, these words are phrases and clauses? But how do we differentiate them? This article will explain.
Every sentence in English is made of phrases and/ or clauses, but how do we know a group of words is a phrase or a clause. Consider the following two sentences to know the difference between phrases and clauses.
- She has a beautiful chain of silver.
- She has a beautiful chain which is made of silver.
The first group of words “of silver” is the part of the sentence, and it doesn’t have its own subject and predicate; such words’ group is called a phrase.
The second group of words, “which is made of silver,” is the part of a large sentence, and it has its own subject “which” and the predicate “is made of silver” this type of group of words is called a clause.
You might have noticed that both phrases and clauses are a group of words that appear as part of a large sentence and add some more information to the sentence or further explain the sentence they appear in—the presence of subject-verb combination that differentiates phrase and clause.
A single clause can make a sentence, but a single phrase can’t. For example, examine the two groups of words.
The boy swims.
In the pool.
The first group of words is a complete sentence. If we want to add where the boy swims, we need to add some more words (phrase) ‘in the pool.’
The boy swims in the pool.
In the whole sentence, the word ‘in the pool’ is a phrase (a prepositional phrase, to be exact) that just elaborates the sentence.
We define a phrase and a clause below.
A clause consists of a group of words that contain a subject and a verb.
A phrase also contains more than one word, but it doesn’t contain a subject-verb combination.
The following are some more examples of the difference between phrases and clauses.
Phrases and Clauses Difference Examples
|I know your address.||I know where you live.|
|We don’t know his ability or inability to pass the test. ||We don’t know whether he passes the test or she cannot.|
|The girl shows her cleverness as a student.||The girl shows that she is a clever student.|
|I don’t know the time of his arrival.||I don’t know when he will arrive.|
|Does she know how to close it?||Does she know how it should be closed?|
|That man knows how to lift it out.||That man knows how it can be lifted out. |
|The insects are too small to see.||The insects are so small that we cannot see them.|
|He bought a broken watch.||He bought a watch which is broken.|
How to Identify a Group of Words, a Phrase, or a Clause?
Since both phrases and clauses are made of groups of two or more words that join to make sentences, but the job they do is different. To identify whether a words group is a phrase or clause is to look for both subject and predicate (verb). If both the subject and verb exist, then it is a clause; otherwise, it is a phrase. It doesn’t matter if the group of words stands by itself or not, but a clause must have a subject-verb combination. Analyze the following example.
Mutton roast and white rice is delicious food.
This sentence can be easily split into two parts the subject and the predicate. The whole group of words is a clause with the subject’ Mutton roast and white rice’ and predicate ‘is delicious food,’ but the first part of this clause’ Mutton roast and white rice’ is a phrase (noun phrase) because it doesn’t contain its own subject and predicate but just act as the subject of the clause.
He has bought a book of short stories, sayings, and quotations.
Again, the whole sentence itself is a clause (independent clause) with the subject ‘he’ and the verb ‘has bought.’ The remaining part is the phrase and is the verb’s object has bought.