Recognize function and form

X structure diagram
leaf fall
We saw some colorful leaves on the ground.
‹ diagram ›
► How does a clause differ from a sentence? ▼ Clause

Clause vs. Sentence

  • A clause
    • may stand alone as a sentence.   The leaves were colorful.
    • may be part of another clause:
      • as the subject: That the leaves were so colorful was surprising.
      • as a complement to the verb: We saw that the leaves were colorful.
      • as a modifier to a noun (a dependent of the noun): The leaves which were colorful lay on the ground.
    • may be a coordinate of and, but or or:
      • We saw that the leaves were colorful and that they were falling.
      • We don't know exactly what causes the color change or why they fall.
  • A sentence
    • may be composed of one or more clauses and ideas.
    • includes punctuation, which clarifies how we interpret added information (linked words, quoted speech, nonrestrictive clauses, add-on comments.
    • is mostly a concept of writing. 
    • may be artfully composed for poetic or emotional impact. 
    • is usually part of a larger piece of writing or verbal exchange.  See  Spoken vs. Written

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