Difference Between Phrase vs Clause

Difference Between Phrase vs Clause

According to scholars, over six thousand languages are spoken in the world today. Keep in mind that about two thousand of them have gone extinct. Interestingly, the most popular of them all is Chinese, followed by Spanish, before English in the third place.

In speaking and writing any language, basic components are applied to create intricate sentence structures. Some of these components are so similar that they are misconstrued for one another. For instance, people get confused when asked to state the difference between clause and phrase. In this post, you will learn the distinction between these two following the standards of the English language.

Definition of Phrase

A phrase is defined as a group of words that does not involve a subject (a person or thing performing an action) or a predicate (definition of the subject’s actions). Notice that the definition says “group of words,” implying that it may or may not make any sense when strung together. Because a phrase does not have the components mentioned above, it tends not to convey a complete meaning.

Here are a few things that set the latter aside in the clause vs phrase comparison. First is its inability to convey a comprehensive thought on its own. This means it holds little to no meaning when standing alone. To avoid this, it has to be joined to another sentence that has certain elements, namely a subject and predicate.

Interpreting this component depends on what type of phrase you are dealing with. It could be a noun, adjective, adverb, or preposition phrase. The following are some examples.

  • The new baby cried so loud
  • Most of his clothes got burnt in the fire
  • There were a lot of brilliant young scholars at the conference
  • She ate her food on the table

In summary, you may have noticed from the examples above that a phrase can fall in the middle, start, or end of a sentence.

Definition of Clause

A clause is defined as a group of words that contains a subject and a verb. Like we stated earlier, a subject is a person or thing performing the action of interest, and you may already know that a verb is a word that describes an action. From this definition, it is easy to see how a clause can make a complete sentence with a wholesome meaning, but that is not always the case.

If the words involved can stand alone to make a complete meaning, then it is referred to as an independent clause. When the reverse is the case, then it is referred to as dependent. A clause can also serve in different capacities in a sentence. It can serve as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

One thing these two contexts have in common is how they can come together to coexists and make a complete meaning of a sentence.

Here are some examples.

  • She prepared a meal for her friends
  • He ran
  • I made my decision after I heard from both parties
  • A person who talks too much cannot be trusted

Finally, just like in the previous case, there is no particular order of word arrangement that can help to determine where a clause may be located.

Main Differences Between Phrase vs Clause

The difference between phrase and clause is pretty straightforward once you understand the definitions. For a better understanding, we have put together some of the key factors that show the disparities between these two.

Basis of ComparisonPhraseClause
Definition A group of words that does not involve a subject or a predicateA group of words that contains a subject and a verb
Level of understandingNone Yes 
Component of Clause or sentenceComplete sentence
Complete thought None may , or may not
Stand alone Dependent Independent 

Difference Between Phrase and Clause: Conclusion

In conclusion, despite the contrasts you may notice in the phrase vs clause comparison, one thing is obvious: they are both undeniably instrumental to effective communication, be it spoken or written. They are both present in most complete sentences, and they work hand in hand to convey a particular meaning.