Clause, Phrase and Sentence: What’s the Difference?

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A Phrase, clause and sentence are some of the most significant structural branches of the English Language. It provides structure and meaning to almost every linguistic formation in English. The three are inseparable in a way that phrases and clauses provide meaning to a particular sentence.

Therefore, in this blog, we will learn more about these three components of a sentence structure with the help of interesting examples, usage, structure, and more one by one to get an edge over basic grammar rules in English. 

Read also: Learn English Grammar from Scratch

Difference between a Phrase, Clause, and Sentence

In the below table, we have described phrases, clauses and sentences with the help of examples and their usage:


It refers to two or more words that work together as a unit within a sentence.
For instance, “in the car” is a prepositional phrase.
A set of words with a subject (who or what) and a verb (what they do) that could be a complete thought. Consider it as a building block.A sentence is like a bunch of words that get together to tell a complete story, ask a question, or give an order.

Not all phrases need a verb. 
For example, a noun phrase can work as a subject.
Clauses are the building blocks of sentences, but unlike phrases, they can represent a whole thought.Sentences are the foundation of communication. They are like little packets of information that deliver complete thoughts, questions, or commands.
ExamplesThe blue car zoomed by.The dog barks loudly at the mailman.Please close the door.
clauses vs phrases vs sentences vs idioms

Types of Phrase

Any group of meaningful words that do not create complete meaning is a phrase. If taken independently that is without any other words, it will not be meaningful at all. A phrase occurs inside a sentence as its structural part. For example, ‘in ten steps’, expansion term, the great man, the thick canopy, a pink flower,’ etc. Phrases are mainly of three types and can be defined as follows: 

Prepositional Phrase 

The proposition is preceded by a noun or a pronoun or something which works as a noun or a pronoun. Moreover, it is a group of words formed with a preposition. Some examples: Diwali is a wonderful occasion. He was lost at sea.

Noun Phrase

This is a phrase that functions as a noun in a sentence. Whereas, a noun or a pronoun and itself modified makes up a noun phrase. For example, The woman takes a bus every day to work. Ramesh has a very beautiful bag with him. 

Verb Phrase

This phrase will include a main verb and one or more helping verbs. These two will have a link that joins them. This phrase will choose the various times of the action in a sentence. For example, The scooter is moving in a circle. Will she be eating the entire buffet? How are you doing?

Types of Clauses

A clause is also a group of words but this group must contain the subject and a predicate. Hence, a clause can make complete sense even when present outside the sentence. It is a part of a sentence that includes the subject and the predicate. For instance, I have a cat. The snow has been falling since yesterday. Clauses are of the following types:

Main or Independent Clause

The major clause is that part of a sentence that not only includes the subject and the predicate but it also makes perfect sense if we take it out of the sentence. In other words, we can say that this clause does not need a context to make sense. For instance, China is increasing at a very fast pace and this has amazed many economists. The clauses in bold are independent.

Subordinate or Dependent Clause

A subordinate or a dependent clause must contain the subject and the predicate. The only condition is that these types of clauses would not make proper sense without another clause. The dependent clause depends on the primary clause for emanating a proper purpose. Some examples: The country is moving from bad to worse. Ramesh has a dog who can stand on two legs.

4 Types of Sentences

The way sentences deliver those messages can be unlike depending on what type of message it is. Below are the 4 major types of sentences with the help of examples:

  1. Declarative Sentences: These are like information reports, signifying you something in a clear way. They end with a period (.)

Example: “The dog sleeps on the rug.” (This box has the fact that the dog likes to nap on the rug.)

  1. Interrogative Sentences: These are like question boxes, asking for information. These sentences end with a question mark (?)

Example: “Do you want some coffee?” (This box asks if you’d like something to drink.)

  1. Imperative Sentences: These are like instruction boxes, letting know someone to do something. They usually end with a period (.) but can also use an exclamation mark (!) for emphasis.

Example: “Clean your room.” (This box tells someone to tidy up.)

Example: “Close the door!” (This box tells someone to close the door with more hurry.)

  1. Exclamatory Sentences: These are used for, expressing strong emotions like surprise, anger or excitement. The sentences end with an exclamation mark (!)

Example: “Wow! That was a close call!” (This box shows surprise about something that almost happened.)


What is a phrase, clause, and sentence example?

Some of the clauses include phrases, like “He laughs at shy people.” “He laughs” is a clause, and “at shy people” is a phrase that completes the clause and ends the sentence. Phrases can be any combination of words that do not combine a subject and a verb.

What do you understand by a clause in a sentence?

A clause consists of words that make up a sentence. It has a subject and a predicate. A clause should also have a subject and a verb.

What do you mean by phrase in a sentence?

A phrase is a group of words that works together in a sentence but does not contain a subject or a verb. Phrases are used for descriptions of people, things, or events, such as: Filled with joy, the little girl jumped up and down. The woman with the red jacket is my mother.

Related reads: 

Clause and Phrase Examples31+ Best English Phrases for Beginners
Difference between Phrases and Clauses 25+ Noun Phrase Examples with Usage
What is a Phrase?50+ Idioms and Phrases Questions

This was all about the clauses, phrases, and sentences in English grammar. Hope you understand the concept and know how to proceed. You can also follow the page of Leverage Edu for more exciting and informative blogs.

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