The Phrase and the Clause

We will discuss here about the phrase and the clause.


A phrase is like a unit of words which don’t have any finite verb. It makes a sense but not a complete sense. Example - at the same time, many more things, etc.,

Examine the group of words in bold in the following sentences.

1. The sun sets in the west.

2. I shot an arrow into the air.

They have no subject or predicate of their own. Such groups of words are called phrases.

The phrase is divided into eight sections. These are-noun phrases, adjective phrases, adverbial phrases, prepositional phrases, participial phrases, phrase in appositions, absolute phrases, parenthetical phrases. A phrase does not content subject –verb group. Phrases may be short or long. Often a phrase means an idiomatic meaning.

Noun Phrases - When a phrase sitting in the same position acts like a noun then it is a called noun phrase.

It is a group of words that acts like a noun.

Example - Reading books is a good habit. Here` a good habit’ is a noun phrase. You can make a noun phrase with using a preposition between two nouns. Example - ‘reward of honesty’.

Sometimes two nouns, a noun and other parts of speech also make noun phrase. Example –‘Virtue & vice’.

These are called nominal compounds.

Two nouns jointly make a noun phrase. Example - puja room.


Adjective phrases - An adjective phrase is certain group of words that acts like an adjective to qualify a noun or pronoun. This phrase may be in subject part or predicate part.

Example - A wall made of bricks.

There is no hard rule of using phrases. It is good to use phrase for beautifying English language.

Adjective & adjective phrase both qualify noun but adjective phrase explains clearly.

Adverbial phrases - This phrase acts like an adverb. It naturally modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb. It denotes manner, place & time.

Example - He works in a slow manner. Here ‘in a slow manner’ is an example of adverbial phrase.


Prepositional phrase - The word groups which starts with a preposition is called a prepositional phrase.

Example - In spite of having so many difficulties I enable to save my paternal property.

In spite of having so many bars i succeed to get the authority of kali mandir. Here ‘in spite of’ is an example of prepositional phrase.


Participial phrases - While making participial phrase we need ‘ing’ with the verb. ‘Ed’, ‘en’ are also used for making participial phrases.

Example - Hearing a sound, I woke up.


Phrase in apposition - We need comma (,) to make phrase in apposition.

Example - Sam, a lovely boy, lives in Khatra.


Absolute phrases - It is independent with separate subject and without any finite verb.

Example - The quarrel having broken out (absolute phrase),

The prices are high.


Parenthetical phrases - This type of phrases are thrown into the body of the sentence but there is no structural relation with the sentence.

Example - He is almost a good person.



Examine the group of words in bold in the following sentences.

1. God helps those who help themselves.

2. I know what she wants.

Here who help themselves is a sentence, because it has a Subject (who) and a predicate (help themselves). Similarly, what she wants is also a sentence, because it has a Subject (she) and a Predicate (wants). Such groups of words are called clause.


A clause is a certain group of words with having a finite verb. The clauses are divided into three parts. These are – principal clause, subordinate clause and co- ordinate clause.

Example –

1. I know the boy (principal) who is honest (sub-ordinate).

2. The boy is honest (principal) & I know it (co-ordinate).


Sub ordinate clauses are divided into three parts. They are noun clause, adjective clause and adverbial clause.

Noun clause is related with noun. It works the work of noun.

Example - This is what we want.

Adjective clause - It is also named as relative clause. Here we need subject, object and possession.

Example - The book which you gave me is misplaced.

Adverbial phrase - It needs words like where, since, so long as, till, because, so that, that like words for making such phrases. It does the work of an adverb.

Example - I don’t fear because God is in my side.

While dictating the difference between phrase and clause it is to be said that phrase is a group of verbs without having a finite verb. But a clause is having a finite verb. A phrase makes a sense. But a clause completes a sense or meaning.

English Grammar and Composition

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