Difference Between a Phrase and a Clause

a Phrase vs a Clause
 

Phrase and clause play a huge role in English grammar making it necessary to know the difference between a phrase and a clause. Though this difference between a phrase and a clause is slim, one should understand it clearly as both phrase and clause play an important role in English grammar. Phrase and clause can be known as parts of a sentence. If we forget the grammatical important of phrase and clause for a moment and pay attention to only the words, we can see that the origin of the word is found in the mid 16th century. At the same time, the origin of the word clause is found in Middle English.

What is a Phrase?

A phrase is a set of words that forms a conceptual unit. It is important to know that this string of words does not form a complete sentence. In other words, the word phrase refers to an idiomatic or short expression. The word phrase is figuratively used sometimes to indicate the sense of a ‘manner or mode of expression’ as in the expression ‘a nice turn of phrase.’ The term phrase is more often used in the field of music too in a different sense. It refers to a group of notes forming a distinct unit within a larger piece. Sometimes, the word phrase is used as a verb also as in the sentence given below.

He phrased the reply intelligently.

In this sentence, the word phrase is used as a verb and is used in the sense of ‘express in words’. In the field of law, the word phrase refers to any single statement.

What is a Clause?

A clause, on the other hand, is a distinct part of a sentence and it includes a subject and predicate. This is the main difference between the two terms phrase and clause.  It is important to note that a clause also like a phrase does not form a complete sentence. This is due to the fact that an object is often absent in a clause. It comprises of a subject and predicate only. ‘When I looked into it…..’ is a clause and is a part of the sentence ‘When I looked into it, I saw my own reflection’. Here in this sentence you can see that the part ‘when I looked into it’ consists of the subject, namely, ‘I’ and the predicate ‘looked into’ but it does not complete the sentence by itself. It is interesting to note that a phrase is a subset of a clause.

Difference Between a Phrase and a Clause

What is the difference between a Phrase and a Clause?

• A phrase is a set of words that forms a conceptual unit.

• This string of words known as a phrase does not form a complete sentence. In other words, the word phrase refers to an idiomatic or short expression.

• The word phrase is figuratively used sometimes to indicate the sense of a ‘manner or mode of expression.’

• In the field of music, phrase refers to a group of notes forming a distinct unit within a larger piece.

• Sometimes, the word phrase is used as a verb.

• A clause, on the other hand, is a distinct part of a sentence and it includes a subject and predicate. This is the main difference between the two terms phrase and clause.

• In the field of law, the word phrase refers to any single statement.

• A phrase is a subset of a clause.