Difference Between Phrase and Clause

Difference Between Phrase and Clause

Phrases and clauses are basic components of writing that help you to create intricate sentence structures. They are both groups of words. The main difference between phrase and clause is that a clause contains a subject and a predicate whereas a phrase does not contain a subject and a predicate.

What is a Phrase

A phrase is a group of words that does not contain a subject and a predicate. Since it doesn’t have a subject and predicate, it cannot convey a complete thought and cannot stand alone. Therefore, phrases are mainly used as parts of sentences. Phrases can be categorized into several types. Given below are some of these types of phrases.

Noun Phrase:

A noun phrase gives information about the noun. It contains a noun and the modifiers which distinguish it.

The old lady smiled at me.

Many of his theories were proved wrong.

It was a hot summer day.

Adjective Phrase:

An adjective phrase is a group of words that describe a noun or pronoun in a sentence.

The extremely tired boy started crying.

She bought a black and white polka dotted dress.

The talented young singer mesmerized the audience with his magical voice.

Adverb Phrase:

 An adverb phrase is a group of words that function as an adverb.

The tortoise won the race slow and surely.

Time goes very quickly.

Prepositional Phrase:

Prepositional phrases give information about a time, location or condition. The preposition always appears at the front of the phrase.

He kept his watch on the table.

I received a letter from the president.

Main Difference - Phrase vs Clause

He kept his watch and wallet on the table.

What is a Clause

A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb. A clause can act as a sentence, but not necessarily as a complete sentence. The clauses that can stand alone and convey a complete thought are known as independent clauses and those that cannot stand alone are known as dependent clauses. Given below are some examples of dependent and independent clauses.

 Independent Clauses:

She served tea for the guests.

She smiled.

Even though he despised liars, he couldn’t resist telling a white lie once in a while.

Dependent Clauses:

Mary had her dinner after she watched the news on TV.

My friend failed biology twice even though his mother is a biology teacher.

Clauses can have different roles in a sentence. They can act as a noun, adjective or an adverb.

Noun Clause:

We saw what you did to her.

A man who trusts noone cannot be trusted.

Adjective Clause:

The sofa which you bought last year needs to be reupholstered.

The film you recommended scared me to death.

Adverbial Clause:

He goes to school whenever he wants.

You must continue this exercise until I tell you to stop.

Difference Between Phrase and Clause

The cat that you found belongs to old Mrs. Smith.

Difference Between Phrase and Clause

Subject and Predicate

Phrase does not contain a subject and a predicate.

Clause contains a subject and a predicate.

Complete meaning

Phrases cannot convey a complete thought.

Clauses can sometimes convey a complete thought.


Phrases cannot stand alone.

Independent clauses can stand alone.Difference Between Phrase and Clause - infographic

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