Clause / Fragment

Identify smaller and larger parts of sentences

We are going to take a siz-week trip to Europe because we want to see its beautiful cities.
 

 

A  sentence consists of these larger parts:

GRAMMAR TERM TYPE DESCRIPTION EXAMPLE

PHRASE  

fragment  

A phrase is a group of words that together have a particular meaning, but do not express a complete thought or do not meet the requirements of being a grammatical sentence. Phrases are the smaller parts that make a clause.

a six-week trip (noun phrase),  to Europe (prepositional phrase), its beautiful cities (possessive phrase), are going to (verb phrase),  want to see (infinitive phrase) 

CLAUSE  

(see below)

A clause includes at least a subject and a verb. There are two kinds of clauses: dependent and independent. Clauses are the smaller parts that make a sentence.

We are going to take a six-week trip to Europe | because we want to see its beautiful cities. 

INDEPENDENT CLAUSE

sentence

An independent clause expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a grammatical sentence. It has at minimum a subject and verb.  

We are going to take a six-week trip to Europe. 

DEPENDENT CLAUSE  

fragment 

A dependent clause has a subject and verb, but does not express a complete thought and may sound like nonsense as a stand-alone sentence. A dependent clause often begins with an adverb or a connector  (before, after, because, while, though, and, but, so, etc.) and requires attachment to an independent clause to complete the rest of the thought.   

because we want to see its beautiful cities. 

SENTENCE  

sentence

A sentence consists of an independent clause and optionally one or more dependent clauses. It expresses a complete thought.

We are going to take a six-week trip to Europe because we want to see its beautiful cities.
Because we want to see its beautiful cities, we are going to take a six-week trip to Europe.

fragment (n.) – an isolated, unfinished, or incomplete part
See Grammar Notes for traditional vs. linguistic terms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sentence Parts

A Phrase

luggage
 

 

A Phrase vs. a Clause

A PHRASE / FRAGMENT

A phrase is a small group of words that together have a particular meaning, but they do not express a complete thought or do not meet the requirements of being a grammatical sentence.

In fact, nearly eighty-six million annually. 

All those amazing things to see! 

How about your visa? 

Having shoes, which are comfortable.

And so do I. 

Over there.

A CLAUSE

A clause includes at least a subject and a verb. There are two kinds of clauses: dependent and independent.  The examples below are independent clauses and they are sentences.

Each year, millions of people travel to the U.S.

There are so many amazing things to see!.

What are you going to do about your visa? / Is your visa up to date?

It is important to have a good pair of comfortable walking shoes.

I have some good shoes too. 

The ticket office is over there.  

 

See  Complete Thought  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sentence Parts

A Clause

 

 

 

An Independent Clause vs. a Dependent Clause

AN INDEPENDENT CLAUSE

An independent clause expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a grammatical sentence. It has its own subject and verb.

Istanbul is an amazing city to visit.

We are going to apply for visas.

We are going to take raincoats.

We exchanged our money for Euros.

We take electrical outlet adapters with us.

It is important to have a good pair of walking shoes.

We carry an umbrella.

We pack lots of sunscreen.

A DEPENDENT CLAUSE

A dependent clause has a subject and verb, but does not express a complete thought and may sound like nonsense as a stand-alone sentence. It often begins with an adverb or a connector  (before, after, because, while, though, and, but, so, etc.) and requires attachment to an independent clause to complete the rest of the thought. 

and we are going there!  (and – coordinating conjunction)

before we leave on our trip.  (before – subordinating conj)

though we don't know if we will need them. (though – subordinating conj)

which is the common currency in much of Europe.  (which – relative pronoun)

whenever we travel overseas.  (whenever – subordinating conj)

as long as there is room in the suitcase.  (as long as – subordinating conj)

if rain is expected. (if – subordinating conj)

because we don't want to get burned.  (because – subordinating conj)

 

See Grammar Notes for linguistic terms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A  Sentence

Spoken vs. Written

 

 

 

Understood vs. Explicit

UNDERSTOOD THOUGHT

Much of what we have to say in speech can be understood from the context of the situation, consequently we shorten our comments omitting the parts we think the other person can see or know.

Wonderful!  Oh!  Ahh!  Wow!  Oh no!  Hah!

An exclamation is treated as a sentence with end punctuation even though it does not stand alone as a complete idea. 

Leave!   Stop!    Go!   Halt! 

An imperative sentence is treated as a sentence with end punctuation. It has no subject, but it is complete and is understood through the context of the situation. 

The more taxes, the more complaining.   The more the merrier.

Expressions are not punctuated like most sentences. 

Yes.  No.

Affirmative and negative answers, such as yes and no may stand alone and be followed by a period or exclamation mark.

EXPLICIT – CLEARLY STATED

In writing, we need to fully express an idea because we cannot expect the reader to see or know the context of the idea.

(It is) wonderful!   It must be understood from the context of the situation.

"It is" (thing that both listener and speaker know) is understood. Optionally include the subject and verb.

(You) leave!

"You" is understood. Optionally include the subject.

The more taxes (we have) , the more complaining (we do).

The more (people we are), the merrier (we are.)

Understood:  the verbs / Optionally include the verbs. The more, the more

Yes, that is correct.

The question is understood. Optionally restate the question in the response.

 

explicit (adj.) – fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated

understood (adj.) – not fully expressed and requiring context

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

NOT A SENTENCE A  SENTENCE

We had a wonderful time there. In fact, great!  (fragment– no subject or verb) 

We had a wonderful time there; in fact, it was great! 

We had a wonderful time there. In fact, it was great!

We had a wonderful, in fact, a great time there.

(Add a subject, verb and punctuation.) 

 He crashed his car.  Because he was texting and not paying attention.  (fragment – the adverb because marks the clause as a dependent clause. A dependent clause needs to be attached to an independent clause to be a sentence.)

He crashed his car because he was texting and not paying attention.
Because he was texting and not paying attention, he crashed his car .
(Join the dependent clause to the independent clause.  Use a commas to separate the clauses only if the sentence begins with the adverb clause.) 

Put the book there.  On my desk.  (fragment– no subject or verb)

Put the book there, on my desk. (Add the prepositional phrase with a comma as it restates there.) 

The thing that amazed me.  (fragment– main clause has no verb)

The thing that amazed me was the architecture.   (The main, independent clause, needs to have a complete thought, a subject and a verb.)

The city had fewer than a million people before became a world trading center.
 

The city had fewer than a million people before it became a world trading center. (Add a subject to the dependent clause.) 

Keep bedrooms free of clutter where bedbugs can hide and seal wall cracks and crevices. (unclear subject in second clause – crafty little bugs ? )

Keep bedrooms free of clutter where bedbugs can hide, and seal wall cracks and crevices. (Better, but the subject of this clause is ambiguous)
 

Keep bedrooms free of clutter where bedbugs can hide.   Seal wall cracks and crevices. (The best solution is to separate the clause into its own sentence.)

Pop-Q – "In fact"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional Grammar and Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

 

TRADITIONAL GRAMMAR LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION
PHRASE PHRASE

A phrase is a group of words that together have a particular meaning, but do not express a complete thought or do not meet the requirements of being a grammatical sentence. Phrases are the smaller parts that make a clause. (Azar  12-3, 13-11, 14-1, 18-1)

adverb phrase – Before falling asleep, she sucks her thumb.
gerund phrase – Running around the room is tiring.
infinitive phrase – To read her a story is helpful.
noun clause phrase – [What she wants] is unimportant.
participial phrase – The girl running around the room was very noisy. 
past participle phrase – The girl tired of crying fell asleep. 
possessive phrase – Her crying attracted attention.
prepositional phrase – The girl ran to everyone in the room.
 

Phrasal Categories "Constituents containing more than one word (more specifically, containing a central and most important word augmented by appropriate accompanying words that elaborate its contribution to the sentence) are called phrases, and are assigned to phrasal categories." (Huddleston 1 §4.2.2)

The girl ran over very quickly to almost every person in the extremely noisy room.

NP –noun phrase;  The girl [determiner + noun]
VP – verb phrase;  ran over [verb + prep]
PP – prepositional phrase; in the room [prep + det + noun]
AdvP – adverb phrase; very quickly [adv + adv]
AdjP – adjective phrase;  extremely noisy  [adv + adj]
DetP – determinative phrase; almost every  [adv + det]
  

DEPENDENT CLAUSE ADJUNCT

"A dependent clause is not a complete sentence."  (Azar 242)

but the girl cried   
where the girl is sitting 
because the girl is tired 
although the girl is crying
if the girl sleeps  

 

Adjuncts are modifiers in a clause. They are not essential to completing the meaning of a clause. We can understand the clause without it. They include semantic categories such as time, duration, frequency, degree, purpose, reason, result, concession, condition, and so on. (Huddleston 8 §1-20)

but the girl cried     (coordinative clause)
where the girl is sitting   (locative preposition – PP)
because the girl is tired   (cause-effect preposition– PP)
although the girl is crying  (concession preposition– PP)
if the girl sleeps   (conditional preposition– PP)
 

  CLAUSE (NONFINITE)

(See participial phrase and infinitive phrase above.)

 

A nonfinite clause includes a secondary.  A secondary (nonfinite) verb is one of three verb form types: infinitival, gerund-participle (-ing) or past participle (-ed).   Clauses whose verbs are secondary are called nonfinite clauses. (Huddleston 14 §1-8)

Gerund-participle clause  
running around the room
crying on the floor
tired of crying

Infinitival clause  
to leave the room now ("to" form)
take her home  (plain form)
 

 

CLAUSE  (FINITE)

A  clause includes at least a subject and a verb. There are two kinds of clauses: dependent and independent. Clauses are the smaller parts that make a sentence.

A  finite clause includes a primary verb. A primary (finite) verb can be marked by tense and number. In English, these include the past and the present tense verb forms. All other tenses are formed with one or more verb types: auxiliaries, modals and participles. Clauses whose verbs are primary are called finite clauses. (Huddleston 3 §1.80)

The child enjoys running around the room.
The child crying in the middle of the floor was tired.
The child tired of crying got up and left.

Infinitival clause  
The child wants to leave the party now. ("to" form)
Her mother helped take her home.  (plain form)
 

CATEGORIES:  NP –noun phrase; N – noun; VP – verb phrase; V – verb; DetP – determinative phrase; Detdeterminer; PP – prepositional phrase; P – preposition; AdvP – adverb phrase; Adv – adverb; AdjP– adjective phrase; Adj – adjective
FUNCTIONS: Subject:  Subject,   Predicate: Predicator (V) Complements: (elements required by verb) Object, Indirect Object, Predicative Complement  Adjuncts: (optional modifiers) Adj, Adv

 

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Hiking

hikers
 

 

Decide whether the clause is  a phrase, or a dependent or independent clause.

  1. Select the response from the list that best describes the example. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

1.
 

2.
 

3.

4.


For example
5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Istanbul

Istanbul
 

 

Read for Errors

Istanbul is an amazing city. Because of its rich history and breathtaking location. The city of Istanbul has twenty-seven districts. Which are very different in character. Throughout its long history. It has been a cultural melting pot. 

Istanbul has diverse architectural styles. Because it has had diverse people. Greek, Roman and Byzantine structures.  All stand in harmony in the city of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia is very famous. As it was once the world's largest cathedral. Construction of the Walls of Constantinople began under Constantine the Great. But had to be enlarged as the city grew.

Because Istanbul is located on a Peninsula.  It is surrounded by water. You will see fishing boats and seafood markets. If you visit the port. Istanbul has two international airports. Atatürk International Airport on the European side. Sabiha Gökçen International Airport on the Asian side. The city has had huge growth recently. For example, about one million people in 1901 and now 13 million.

The city was and still is ideally situated. The crossroads to the great trade centers of Europe. Though occasionally it gets cold in the winter. The mild climate makes it an ideal place to live.

melting pot (expression) – mixing of cultures

architectural – building design styles

diverse – varying greatly, different

ideally – perfectly

is situated – is located; is placed, is built

 

 

 

 

Edit and correct the sentence if it needs correcting.

  1. Edit the sentences so that they form one complete sentence.
  2. Compare your response by clicking the "check" button.
11.
Istanbul is an amazing city.  Because of its rich history and breathtaking location.



Because phrases  
12.
The city of Istanbul has twenty-seven districts. Which are very different in character.



Which clauses  
13.
Throughout its long history.  It has been a cultural melting pot. 



Adverbial clauses
14.
Istanbul has diverse architectural styles. Because it has had diverse people.  



Because clauses
15.
Greek, Roman and Byzantine structures.  All stand in harmony in the city of Istanbul.



Colons
16.
Hagia Sophia is very famous. As it was once the world's largest cathedral.



As clause
17.
Construction of the Walls of Constantinople began under Constantine the Great. But had to be enlarged as the city grew.



FANBOYS
18.
Because Istanbul is located on a Peninsula.  It is surrounded by water.



Because clauses
19.
You will see fishing boats and seafood markets. If you visit the port.  



Conditional clauses
20.
Istanbul has two international airports.   Atatürk International Airport on the European side. Sabiha Gökçen International Airport on the Asian side.



Word Lists
21.
The city has had huge growth recently. For example, about one million people in 1901 and now 13 million.



Example Words
22.
The city was and still is ideally situated. The crossroads to the great trade centers of Europe.

23.
Though occasionally it gets cold in the winter. The mild climate makes it an ideal place to live. 



Though clauses