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Phrases and Clauses

Sep 7, 2022

What is a phrase?  

A group of words, which makes sense, but not complete sense, is called a phrase. It is a group of related words without a subject and a verb. 

Examples of phrases:  

  • The sun sets in the east. 
  • Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall   
  • Fernandez wore a hat with green trimming. 
  • The girl with brown hair is an artist. 
  • Holding the ball, the child slept. 

What is a clause?  

A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a predicate. 

A clause is a part of a sentence, consisting of at least one subject and a verb. 

A clause may be either a sentence (an independent clause) or a sentence-like construction within another sentence (a dependent or subordinate clause). 


Examples Of Clauses: 

  • John sings. 
  • Yesterday we played basketball. 
  • Consider the following sentence: 
  • Steepen liked Natasha when she was a kid. 

The part Steepen liked Natasha could be a complete sentence on its own.  

The additional part, when she was a kid, could not be a complete sentence on its own, therefore is a clause.  

The construction when she was a kid is a part of sentence, in the sense that we can analyze it in terms of the major sentence elements (subject, verb, etc. . . .). It has its own subject (she), and it has a verb (was). 

1. Now let’s see what Subordinating conjunctions are:

The conjunctions that join an independent clause and a dependent clause are called subordinating conjunctions.  


The most common subordinating conjunctions include: 

After, although, as, as far as, as if, as long as, as soon as, as though, because, before, if, in order that, since, so, so that, then, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, wherever, and while. 

2. A coordinating conjunction is a word used to connect compound parts of a sentence. 

The most common conjunctions—and, but, nor, for, so, yet and or—are called coordinating conjunctions.  

Coordinating conjunctions are used to connect independent clauses in compound sentences. 

In each complex sentence that follows, the subordinate clause is underlined. 

  1. Michael, who moved here from Malaysia, is very popular. 
  2. Since John moved to Springfield, he has made many new friends. 
  3. Everyone says that Kent is very friendly

Subordinate clauses can function in 3 ways: 

  • as adjectives  
  • as adverbs
  • or as nouns

In the example:

  • “People who are intelligent know the traffic rules.”   

The sentence “who are intelligent” has an adjective clause that modifies the noun “people”. 

There are 6 main types of phrases: 

Noun Phrase 

A noun phrase functions just like a noun in a sentence, hence its name. It includes the noun and adjectives to describe the noun: 

  • The pretty, little flowers are blossoming in my garden. 

Verb Phrase 

A verb phrase contains a verb and its modifiers, just like a noun phrase. 

  • I have been working non-stop today. 

Gerund Phrase 

A gerund phrase uses an -ing verb as a noun. To put it most simply, a gerund phrase is the same as a noun phrase, except you use the gerund instead of the noun. 

  • I love swimming in the ocean. 

Infinitive Phrase 

As you might’ve guessed, an infinitive phrase starts with the infinitive – the linking verb ‘to’. 

  • I want to go to the cinema later. 
  • To understand phrases vs clauses, you should read this Teaching Wiki. 

Prepositional Phrase 

Prepositions help us to describe the position of a noun or pronoun. A prepositional phrase includes the preposition, as well as all the words that follow. 

  • The new bookshop is going to open near my house. 


1 to 5. Complete the following paragraph with the help of the appropriate Subordinate clauses out of those given below: 

Parents workday and night so that (1) ……………………. They afford all the essentials to the children while (2) …………………. Indian mother (3) ………………………is called a representative of God. The greatest achievement of the parents is (4) ………………………. The children, on their part, should not do anything (5) ………………………   


  1. Their children waste money 
  2. Their children enjoy 
  3. Their children make a good progress 
  4. Their children were happy 



  1. They themselves work hard 
  2. They themselves enjoy their life 
  3. They do not work hard 
  4. They shirk work 



  1. Who spends her time in the office 
  2. Who spends her time out of home 
  3. Who sacrifices a lot  
  4. Who works in an office who works in an office 



  1. When their children spend a lot of money. 
  2. When they enjoy their life. 
  3. When their children bring them name and fame. 
  4. When their children stood on feet 



  1. That brings insult to their parents 
  2. That brings honor to others 
  3. That brings insult to others 
  4. That brings her dishonor 



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