Difference Between Phrase and Clause

Phrases and clauses play an enormous role in English grammar which makes it necessary to know the “Difference Between Phrases and Clause’’.

Although this distinction between a phrase and a clause is slim, one must clearly understand it as both the phrase and the clause play an important role in English grammar.

The phrase and therefore the clauses are often referred to as a part of a sentence.

If we forget for a moment the grammatical significance of the phrase and the genre and only pay attention to the word, we can see that the source of the word has been found within the middle of the 16th century.

At an equivalent time, the origin of the word clause is found in Middle English.

Phrase vs Clause

The main difference between Phrase and Clause is their use in the grammar. A phrase is a sequence of words that acts as an integral part of a sentence. On the contrary, a clause in an aspect of the sentence which is inherent by a verb. A phrase is just not enough to complete a sentence, whereas a clause helps to do it.

Phrase vs Clause


Comparison Table Between Phrase and Clause (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of comparisonPhraseClause
MeaningA set of the word that works together with a particular meaning but cannot stand their own as a sentence.A group of related words that forms part of a sentence or stands their own as a sentence that contains a subject and a verb.
Component ofClause or sentenceComplete sentence carrying complete meaning
Makes a complete senseNoYes
Conveys a thought or ideaNoYes
ExampleI will see you at the restaurant.
The boy loves to play alone.
I waited for her but she didn’t come.
You can play after finishing your task.


What is Phrase?

A phrase is a set of words that constitute the conceptual unit. It’s important to understand that the string of these words doesn’t constitute an entire sentence. In other words, the phrase refers to an idiom or short expression.

The phrase is usually used figuratively to refer to the ‘twist of thought’, like a gorgeous twist in a phrase. It refers to a group of notes forming distinct units within a bigger piece.

Sometimes, the word phrase is used as a verb in the sentence. Here the absence of a subject-verb combination is significant. A phrase may have a subject or a verb but won’t have both together.

Mainly there are six types of phrases in English grammar :

  1. Noun Phrase – Eg. The woman at the shop is my mother.
  2. Verb Phrase – Eg. He must be singing at the Super singing star.
  3. Adverbial Phrase – Rakesh said me the truth very honestly.
  4. Gerund Phrase – Neha and her friend’s enjoyed a lot of dancing at the birthday party.
  5. Infinitive Phrase – Kapil loves to surprise others.
  6. Prepositional Phrase – I wish to live near the hotel.

What is Clause?

A clause is a group of many words, where a subject is performing a Verb well. It is a distinct part of a sentence and includes a subject and a prediction. This is a type of sentence that might or might not be complete.

It is important to note that even a clause does not constitute a complete sentence like a phrase. A clause is used as an integral part of a sentence.

It consists of a subject and only predicts. The presence of the combination of a subject-verb is very important here.

There are different types of clause :

  1. Dependent clause – Eg. I had food before I left for the market.
  2. Independent clause – Eg. Rahul talks slowly at the meeting.
  3. Noun clause – Eg. I know what he is trying to do.
  4. Relative clause – Eg. The girl who gave you a rose yesterday is my sister.
  5. Adverbial clause – Eg. After the party was finished, the band left for Delhi for the next program.

Main Differences Between Phrase and Clause

The following points are sufficient to give a fair idea about the differences between Phrases and Clause :

  1. The actual difference between ‘Phrase’ and ‘Clause’ is that where Clause has a subject and a predicate, Phrase has only one of two. Usually, there is a noun but no verb in Phrase. It does not have a predicate.
  2. Although the phrases are built into clauses, the essential thing is that ‘Phrase’ cannot stand alone as a fulfilled sentence because it doesn’t provide a complete meaning. In each word of ‘Phrase’ feature a meaning but doesn’t make an entire sense like a sentence.
  3. On the other hand, there is both a subject and a verb with a predicate in Clause.  Its a group of words that forms part of a sentence. Clauses can also include phrases. If there is no subject-verb combination in the clause, then it forwards into the category of phrases.
  4. A clause is an individual part of a sentence and includes a subject and a prediction. This is the main difference between the two terms and the sentence. A clause is a sentence fragment.
  5. The phrase is a glossary of words that forms the conceptual unit. In other words, the phrase refers to an idiom or short expression. Phrases are sometimes used figuratively. It is interesting to note that a phrase is a subset of a genre. Sometimes, the phrase of a word is used as a verb.
  6. In the case of music, the phrase refers to a group of notes that form a separate unit within a larger section and in the case of law, the word phrase refers to any single statement.
  7. Where a clause is an independent clause, it can stand alone which expresses a thought or meaning. But it can never stand alone if it’s a dependent clause. Then something else is needed to fulfill it.
  8. A phrase may slot in a clause, but a clause might not slot in a phrase any more than a shoebox can fit in a shoe.



Even though you have a better idea about “Difference Between Phrases and Clause’’, this will much be better doing practice or learning strategies to understand these shots. It can improve your general reading and writing ability.

This skill may also help to improve English speaking or listening. Knowing the structure of a phrase and a clause will make you a perfect reader, speaker, and author.

Key Differences Between Phrase and Clause (PDF Format)

Download the key differences in .PDF format, to read or print them later:

Difference Between Phrase and Clause



  1. https://www.dailywritingtips.com/clauses-and-phrases/
  2. https://www.evergreen.edu/sites/default/files/writingcenter/docs/cvii/Phrase%20and%20Clause%20Grammar%20for%20ELL.pdf
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