Phrase and Clause

Phrase and clause both are the combination of words with no complete meaning.

Phrase: Phrase is the combination of words that doesn’t give complete meanings.

Clause: Clause is the combination of words which sometimes doesn’t give complete meanings (Dependent Clause) and sometimes gives complete meanings (Independent Clause).

There are differences between Clause and Phrase. These are as follows.

  1. Clause is the combination of words that either start or end on punctuation mark or conjunctions, where as this is not the case in Phrase.
  2. Clauses are of two types which sometimes gives complete meanings and sometimes not. When it gives complete meanings it is called Independent Clause and when not then it is Dependent Clause.

Examples of Independent and Dependent Clauses

Man keeps canteen must keep it clean

Here are two clauses Independent and Dependent. Man keeps canteen is Independent Clause whereas must keep it clean is Dependent Clause, because must keep it clean doesn’t give any meaning unless used with Man keeps canteen whereas Man keeps canteen gives complete meaning even without must keep it clean.
So Dependent are those Clauses which need some Independent Clause to give meaning.

Kinds of Sentence with Clauses
When two Independent Clauses are used in a sentence this sentence is called Coordination.
When one Clause is Independent and other Dependent this sentence is called Subordination.
Remember, Independent Clause if also called Main Clause and Dependent as Subordinate Clause.

Examples of Coordination.

  • Mr. Milton teaches us Math and Mr. Martin teaches us English.
  • I am a teacher and you are students.

Examples of Subordination.

  • I neither understand this nor anyone else.
  • I came here by bus and he on foot.
  • You have completed your job, haven’t you?


Phrase is the combination of words that doesn’t give complete meaning, nor it either begins or ends on punctuation mark or conjunction. There are six kinds of phrases in English. In the phrase this is the rule that it is names after the most important word (head) and the rest of word(s) are dependents.

  1. Noun Phrase (Noun is the head)
    Examples: The man, The boy, The College etc

  2. Verb Phrase (Verb is the head)
    Examples: grazing in the field, reading the book, understand the matter

  3. Prepositional Phrase (Preposition is the head)
    Examples: in the room, on the table, under the tree

  4. Adjective Phrase (Adjective is the head)
    Examples: the most important, more intelligent

  5. Adverb Phrase (Adverb is the head)
    most intelligently, more sophisticatedly

  6. Possessive Phrase (possessive apostrophe s is the head)
    The King of Spain’s, boy’s, Peter’s