Grammar and Punctuation The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Clauses and Phrases


  • A clause is a group of words containing a subject and verb. An independent clause is a simple sentence. It can stand on its own.

She is hungry.
I am feeling well today.

  • A dependent clause cannot stand on its own. It needs an independent clause to complete a sentence. Dependent clauses often begin with such words as although, since, if, when, and because.

Although she is hungry …
Whoever is hungry …
Because I am feeling well …

Dependent Independent
Although she is hungry, she will give him some of her food.
Whatever they decide, I will agree to.
  • A phrase is a group of words without a subject-verb component, used as a single part of speech.

Best friend (this phrase acts as a noun)
Needing help (this phrase acts as an adjective; see Adjectives and Adverbs)
With the blue shirt (this prepositional phrase acts as an adjective; see Prepositions)
For twenty days (this prepositional phrase acts as an adverb)