What is The Main Difference Between a Phrase & Clause?

Phrase & Clause
A sentence in English writing can be divided into different parts. Each part of the sentence serves its own purpose and has a unique place in the sentence. It also has some specific characteristics that make the sentence meaningful. While all of this seems very simple, there is still confusion between different parts of a sentence. One of those parts is phrase & clause. These are very puzzling groups of words.

Phrases and clauses are two different but important groups of words that make up sentences in any writing. Some of the similar features of these two make it hard for the readers to differentiate between them. Therefore, in this article, we will look at the main differences that exist between phrases and clauses. However, before that, let’s explain the terms phrase & clause by giving their definitions.

Definitions Of Phrases And Clauses

Both phrases and clauses are parts of a sentence in any kind of writing whether it is professional writing or academic writing. However, they are different from each other. First, let’s look at the difference in their definitions by defining them:

What Is A Phrase?

A phrase is a group of two or more words that act on their own. This group acts as a single unit but does not have a subject or a predicate. A phrase contributes to the meaning of the sentence by telling the reader about the subject, verb, and setting.

What Is A Clause?

A clause is also a group of words, but it acts independently. This combination of words is a complete thought because it contains the subject and verb. Mostly, sentences in any writing are made up of independent and dependent clauses.

Examples Of Phrases & Clauses In A Sentence

After reading the information above, you have got an idea of what a phrase & clause is. Now, to make our understanding more concrete, let’s have a look at some of the examples of phrases and clauses used in a sentence.

Example no. 1

“I went to my home after returning from the party.”

Look at the sentence given above. What do you see? Yes, there is the use of a phrase & clause in this sentence. The group of words “I went to my home” is a clause as it contains both subject and verb and is complete in its meaning. However, the word “from the party” is a phrase.

Example no. 2

“You can play after doing homework.”

In this example, the group of words “you can play” is a clause. Whereas the group of words “after doing homework” is a perfect example of a phrase.

Hence, these are the two examples of phrases and clauses. We hope after going through them, you now have a good idea of how to identify a phrase & clause in a sentence.

Differences Between Phrase And Clause

As it is discussed earlier, phrases and clauses are not similar to each other. There are some obvious differences between them. A brief look at their differences is as follows:

  • The first difference lies in the sense-making of both groups of words. A phrase is a group of words in which each word has its individual meaning, but as a whole, the group has no meaning. In contrast, the clause is complete in its meaning. It contains the subject and verb, which explains the true meaning of a sentence.
  • A phrase can be a component of a clause. On the other hand, a clause cannot be a component of a phrase. It is the component of the complete sentence that you read or craft. So, this is the second difference between a phrase & clause.
  • A phrase is the part of a sentence which conveys no meaning. There is no subject or predicate in a phrase; therefore, it is meaningless. In contrast, the clause contains a subject and a verb. It means the clause is meaningful on its own.
  • The clause can be independent or dependent based on its use in a sentence. Also, whether a clause is independent or dependent, it still has a subject and verb and conveys a meaning. On the other hand, a phrase is just a group of words which has no meaning in a sentence. It just facilitates the clause.


Conclusively, phrases & clauses are two different components of writing. Both these components serve their own purpose. The major difference between a phrase & clause is that the former does not contain a subject and verb, but the latter does. Some other prominent differences are also mentioned above. Hence, read the whole article and use phrases and clauses in your writing accordingly.

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