Lesson Two

Clauses and Phrases

ear or  write by hand


A clause has a subject and a verb, but it may or may not be a sentence.

Some examples:

Because he likes the house. This clause has a subject (he) and a verb (likes) but it lacks the main part of the sentence. However, it’s okay as an answer in a conversation. Also, avoid beginning a sentence with "because" unless you put two clauses together, such as….

Because he likes the house, he decided to buy it.

This is okay. arrow up

In the Orange Level you will learn about many different kinds of clauses. A good knowledge of clauses will help improve your writing and speaking. There are two basic kinds of clauses.

  • Independent Clauses
  • Dependent Clauses

An independent Clause has a subject and a verb and it can stand on its own, serving as a complete sentence.

A Dependent Clause has a subject and a verb but it can not stand on its own. It needs an independent clause.

Before I went to school, I ate some breakfast.

Dependent clauses often begin with words such as before, after, while, during, when, because, if, etc.

Knowing how to use clauses will provide more options for you to express yourself. You can also say….

I ate some breakfast before I went to school.


A phrase is a group of words that does not have a subject and a verb. For example:

in the morning

This phrase tells us when something will happen, but there isn’t a subject, a person or a thing, and there isn’t a verb describing activity or existence. Here’s how to fix it:

I go to school in the morning.

Phrases are very important in English because they provide necessary information, as the examples below (with phrases in blue) demonstrate.

Here are some examples of phrases:

The children are playing in the sand.

"…in the sand" tells us where the children are playing. We could write the sentence like this:

The children are playing.

This is a good sentence but the phrase in the sand provides important information.

children playing

The table in the dining room is very long.


A: What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekend?

B: Playing guitar.

(Playing guitar is my favorite thing to do on the weekend. A response that doesn’t have a clear subject or verb is a phrase. Many people use them in conversation, and that’s okay.)

man playing guitar





Click here to take a quiz on clauses and phrases

Next: Lesson Three

compound sentences