Friday, August 29, 2008

The Difference between a Phrase and a Clause

One of my writing students recently asked about the difference between a phrase and a clause. Here is a working definition of each with examples:

In a phrase, one will not find both a noun and a verb.

In the above sentence, in a phrase is a phrase because it lacks a verb and cannot stand alone as a sentence.

As this is a dependent clause, this is an independent clause.

In the above sentence, as this is a dependent clause is a clause because it contains a noun (this or dependent clause) and a verb (is); additionally, it is a dependent clause because it cannot stand alone as a complete sentence, just like a phrase cannot stand alone.

In the same sentence, this is an independent clause is also a clause, but it is an independent clause because it can stand alone as a sentence.