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Clauses and Phrases

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Clauses and phrases are the building blocks of sentences. Every sentence must have at least one clause to be considered grammatically correct. Understanding how clauses and phrases work will help you better understand sentence structure. You’ll need to have a working knowledge of subjects, predicates, and objects before you continue.

A clause is a subject and a predicate working together.

A sentence can have more than one clause, but it needs AT LEAST ONE CLAUSE or it is a fragment, not a sentence.

I took the dog to the park.
I love learning, so I spend a lot of time reading.

In the first example sentence, the action is took. Ask yourself, "Who took?" Since I takes the verb, I is the subject. Together, the subject and the predicate form a clause. So the first example sentence has one clause.

The predicate in the second sentence is love. So we ask ourselves, "who loves?" The answer to this question is I, so I takes the predicate love. Together, they form a clause. But there is another predicate in this sentence. Spend is also a predicate. Once again, the subject I takes this predicate. So this example sentence has one subject and predicate working together in the first clause, and a second subject and predicate working together in the next clause. The second example sentence has two clauses.

A phrase is a group of words related to the subject, predicate, or object.

Phrases do not contain a subject and a predicate, or we would call them clauses. Phrases provide additional information about subjects, predicates, and / or objects. Understanding how phrases work is helpful when analyzing sentence structure.

After working late into the night, Jack fell asleep on his desk.
I left my keys inside of the Whole Foods, my favorite grocery store.

In these example sentences, the phrases are red. The first example sentence has a predicate, fell, and a subject, Jack. The phrase provides additional information about the subject, but it is not required to form a complete sentence. The phrase does not contain a subject and a predicate. It cannot grammatically stand by itself.

In the second example sentence, the predicate is left and the subject is I. On the other side of the sentence, a phrase provides additional information about an object in the sentence, Whole Foods. Phrases can come at the beginning, middle, or end of sentences. Try reading the sentence without the phrase and notice that the sentence does not actually NEED the phrase. It is grammatically nonessential. Then try reading the phrase without the rest of the sentence. Notice that it hangs? The phrase depends on the sentence to complete its meaning.

Clauses and Phrases Worksheets and Activities

Clauses at the Mall Worksheet
Are your students still mastering clauses and sentence structure? They're going to love this awesome, mall-themed worksheets. Students identify the subjects, predicates, and objects in 15 sentences and determine how many clauses are in each sentence. Then students write original sentences with a variety of clauses.
This is a preview image of Clauses at the Mall Worksheet. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Joining Clauses at the Circus Worksheet
Here's a great worksheet to help your students master clauses and sentence structure. In this worksheet students read circus-themed sentences and join the clauses using coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. Also, they must avoid creating run-on sentences.
This is a preview image of Joining Clauses at the Circus Worksheet. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Ninjas and Clauses Activity
Here's a short activity to help your students review dependent and independent clauses. Students read a passage about ninjas written in a conversational tone. Then they circle the dependent clauses and underline the independent clauses. Each worksheet has 4 copies of the text on it to cut down on paper use. Scissors are not included.
This is a preview image of Ninjas and Clauses Activity. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Clauses and Phrases with Leprechauns Worksheet
Here's a fun, leprechaun-themed activity to help your students review clauses and phrases. Students will circle the predicates, underline the subjects, double underline the phrases. Students will find the real treasure in this activity: knowledge of sentence structure.
This is a preview image of Clauses and Phrases with Leprechauns Worksheet. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Clauses and Phrases Lesson 1
Here's a PowerPoint slideshow about clauses. This lesson teaches students about independent and dependent clauses and phrases. It also includes a practice assessment after the lesson. Check it out!
This is a preview image of Clauses and Phrases Lesson 1. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Clauses and Phrases Lesson 2
Here's another PowerPoint slideshow about clauses and phrases. This lesson teaches students about conjunctions, clauses, and phrases. There is also a short practice activity after the lesson. This is a great way to start teaching about sentence types!
This is a preview image of Clauses and Phrases Lesson 2. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

Clauses and Phrases
Common Core State Standards

Clauses and Phrases Anchor Standard
L.1 - Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

L.K.1f - Produce and expand complete sentences in shared language activities.
L.1.1j - Produce and expand complete simple and compound declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences in response to prompts.
L.2.1f - Produce, expand, and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences (e.g., The boy watched the movie; The little boy watched the movie; The action movie was watched by the little boy).
L.3.1i - Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.
L.4.1e - Form and use prepositional phrases.
L.4.1f - Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.
L.7.1a - Explain the function of phrases and clauses in general and their function in specific sentences.
L.9-10.1b - Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.
Click to VIEW Grade Level Standards for L.1
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  1. Priya

     /  September 29, 2020

    Can u explain dependent and independent phrase and clause

    • Independent clauses have a subject and a predicate and express a complete thought. Dependent clauses have a subject and a predicate but do not express a complete thought because of a conjunction like “because.”

  2. Pulkit

     /  July 19, 2019

    Please sir can you explain the types of clauses

  3. Pulkit

     /  July 19, 2019

    Sir can you teach me some tricks to identify phrases and clauses tomorrow is my exam

  4. Ariv

     /  July 18, 2019

    I still dont understand it

  5. Amudha Godfrey Fernando

     /  March 4, 2019

    Can u give the answer
    As soon as possible

  6. Nishi

     /  February 28, 2019

    Plz provide some worksheet and test papers to
    Solve and gain more marks

  7. Mustansir

     /  February 21, 2019

    I want to give test of adverb clauses and phrases

  8. Ritika

     /  October 13, 2018

    What is a phrase?

    • A phrase is a group of words containing a subject OR predicate (or object) but not a subject AND a predicate. A subject AND a predicate makes a clause.

      There are lots of different types of phrases. For example, the prepositional phrase, which provides information about the location of the subject or object in time and/or space.

      I left my folder under the desk.

      This is a prepositional phrase providing more information about the location of an object (the folder) in relation to another object (the desk).

      Phrases often provide additional information and are not essential to the sentence construction, unlike the clause, which is the essential part of the sentence, I left in the above example.

  9. Chirag Shah

     /  October 3, 2018

    Very nice work Mr Morton

  10. Keira

     /  July 3, 2018

    Thanks a lot. This helped me. Tomorrow is my exam and this is just the right thing i need.. Thanks a lot! Have a nice day, Mr. Morton. 😀

  11. surjith

     /  September 17, 2017

    This is very useful for learning.it teaches us more.it is very good job.I am 7th grade.

  12. blue

     /  September 5, 2017

    i liked the worksheets.
    it was good.

  13. Alegbe Joyce

     /  May 21, 2017

    Great !

  14. meghana

     /  May 20, 2017

    sir what is the difference between a subordinate
    and coordinating clause?

  15. jane

     /  May 15, 2017

    Can you have a dependent clause without subject or verb even though it does not have a complete thought?

    • No, by definition a clause must have a subject and a predicate. Conjunctions are what make them dependent.

  16. mubasher ktk

     /  March 18, 2017

    I am confused in sentence , phrase and clause. Give me 10 of 5 examples of each in a same sentence

    • Clauses.

      1. This is a clause.
      2. Clauses have subjects and predicates.
      3. Clauses can stand by themselves and express a complete thought.
      4. Some sentences have multiple clauses.
      5. Sentences with just one clause are called “simple sentences.”

      1. The frequently used phrases
      2. cannot stand alone
      3. The red, red horse

      Well, I hope you get the idea.

      • farah

         /  July 13, 2018

        Thanks a lot sir. This is really helpful for the second language learners.

  17. taylor

     /  March 13, 2017

    this is kind of tough sir. any extra helps??

  18. jamal

     /  March 6, 2017

    Tell me whether it is phrase or clause in following sentence
    Because of the cost which I bought from the pot pouri

    • Mal

       /  March 10, 2019

      because of the cost which i bought from the poy pouri
      Hey Jamal,
      Jamal first ,the punctuation of your sentence is wrong.It should be like – Because of the cost, which i bought from pot pouri.
      so, this sentence is a subordinate clause.

  19. logan waldschmidt

     /  March 2, 2017

    could you please make a dependent and independent clause about how to become a ninjas please today

  20. Jacquilin

     /  January 31, 2017

    Dear sir,
    I am confused between Past Perfect and Present Perfect tense.

  21. Lavish Beniwal

     /  December 13, 2016

    What is the difference between phrase and dependent clause?

  22. Krithik

     /  September 8, 2016

    Help me in clauses

  23. dharmendra shakya

     /  February 8, 2016

    sir! am confused…. whether what’s the difference between “”Tense & Sentence”””I didn’t to this day such teacher…. who could able off my confusion…. I want a group created in that we all of student could well study sir…. my fb id “”Dharmendra shakya ….u can find my 8445950373

    • Hello.

      Sentences are grammatical units containing at least one subject and a predicate.

      Predicates are verbs.
      Tense is related to verbs.

      It is well known that verbs express actions,
      but it is lesser known that verbs have the extra role of showing time.

      We conjugate verbs to show time. This is called verb tense.

      Since every sentence must have a verb, and every verb has a tense, every sentence has a tense.

      Let’s Look at an Example:

      Mr. Morton walked to the store.

      This sentence has one predicate, which is the verb walked.

      Walked is the past tense verb form of walk.
      The past tense form of a verb shows that the action occurred in the past. It is usually formed by adding “-ed” to the end of the verb.

      If you want to know more about verbs and verb tense, or subjects and predicates, you should check out my free parts of speech web app. I think Units 2 and 6 would be of interest to you.

      Best wishes!

  24. nada kh.

     /  November 30, 2015

    thank you so much , I have exam and my teacher did not talk about it too much…..again thank you !

  25. Sola

     /  November 10, 2015

    Thank you

  26. Shuvankar Biswas

     /  July 2, 2015

    Thanks a lot just for u for this God bless you!

    • Lillian

       /  January 5, 2017

      my exams are coming up and its my first time doing them and this helped me alot

  27. a_emad

     /  January 16, 2015

    Wow! Our teacher doesn’t explain grammar well and this really helped me a lot. Thank you! You are the kindest and sweetest person ever!

  28. Kanika

     /  September 19, 2014

    Thank u for sorting out my problem . Have a nice day

  29. Kanika

     /  September 19, 2014

    U helped me a lot tomorrow is my exam and I need it . Thank u and be happy

  30. Maria Argote

     /  September 11, 2014

    Love your website.
    I find it extremely helpful.
    Thank you so much!

  31. shrevarna shaji

     /  March 3, 2014


  32. shae

     /  February 19, 2014

    thank you so much this helped a ton i was given this site and we have to write a paper on it and on a ton of your other sites. we also have to do some worksheets but this is hopefully stick in my brain. thanks!! this is an amazing site (:

  33. T-MAC

     /  January 14, 2014

    good job

  34. Adrian Castillo

     /  August 26, 2013

    Nice work!!

  35. Hi…………. thank you very much……….. you helped me alot. Tomorrow is my exams and I really needed to know more about these things………….. once again thank you may GOD bless you……………. I am in 8th grade……………. thirteen years old.

  36. Miggy

     /  January 16, 2012

    You’re worksheets are very useful.!! Good job !


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