English Grammar 101: Sentences, Clauses and Phrases

By Daniel Scocco

Welcome to English Grammar 101, the newest category on Daily Writing Tips. I thought that creating a series of posts covering the basic grammar rules and parts of speech would be useful to many people, especially if you consider the diversity of our readership.

On this first post we’ll cover sentences, clauses and phrases.

Sentences

Sentences are made of two parts: the subject and the predicate.

The subject is the person or thing that acts or is described in the sentence. The predicate, on the other hand, is that action or description.

Complete sentences need both the subject and the predicate.

Clauses

Sentences can be broken down into clauses. For example:

The boy is going to the school, and he is going to eat there.

This is a complete sentence composed of two clauses. There are mainly two types of clauses: independent clauses and subordinate clauses.

Independent clauses act as complete sentences, while subordinate clauses cannot stand alone and need another clause to complete their meaning. For example:

Independent clause: “The boy went to the school.”
Subordinate clause: “After the boy went to the school…”

Phrases

A group of two or more grammatically linked words that do not have subject and predicate is a phrase. For example:

The girl is at home, and tomorrow she is going to the amusement park.

You can see that “the amusement park” is a phrase located in the second clause of the complete sentence above.

Phrases act like parts of speech inside clauses. That is, they can act as nouns, adjectives, adverbs and so on.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


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143 Responses to “English Grammar 101: Sentences, Clauses and Phrases”

  • Dave Brigman

    This looks to be another beneficial category from you all! Thanks!

  • Benjamin

    “The boy is going to the school and he is going to eat there.”

    I’m not sure of the variance in grammar rules between nations, but is there a missing comma here?

    And if not, why not?

  • Charles

    For the life of me the grammar behind good writing floats right over my head. I just write like I talk and hope that it’s in the ballpark.

  • Rock

    I hope this becomes a recurring feature every week. There are always little grammar tips that I forget and these will help refresh my memory.

  • Daniel

    Benjamin, the comma on that spot is a matter of style. It is the same as in these two examples:

    I like three fruits: apple, banana, and lemon.

    I like three fruits: apple, banana and lemon.

    Both versions are correct; they just represent two different styles.

  • Voice Of Dingchao

    This is very useful for people whose mother language is not English.
    Thank you.

  • karel saskia bulawan

    The daily writing tips Website helps me a lot, most especially in my work as a writer. It serves as a set of reminders for me everytime I open the site. I am happy such Website exists.

  • Virginia :)

    Thanks for the grammar refreshers (I love grammar)!

    I have forgotten what the proper punctuation is for titles. What should I do when its a Magazine vs. Book vs. Play vs. Movie? Some are italicized, underlined, bolded.

    Can you point me in the right direction? I look forward to your guidance :).

  • luis

    From 1998 on

  • luis

    From 1998 on.
    Does it mean that it started in 1998 and still continues?

  • hamed

    I want to learn english beacuse i have more problum

  • Yunes

    i hope to learn several languages, such as English, in my short life because of enjoiing this. due to this i should study hard to gain this goal.

  • Matilda

    Yeah, please can you post some more little grammar tips. They really do come in handy, and serve as a good reminder.

    Thanks for this site by the way, keep up the good work! 🙂

  • rahul

    i want learn English
    i want improve in English
    i want speak English in future
    i want write, read, & speak English perfectly

  • Matilda

    Hamed, how can English solve your problems?
    Rahul, hopefully you will be able to read, write and speak perfect English in the future 🙂 Practice, practice & practice. ‘Practice makes perfect’. The main thing I can suggest to you would be to read lots. Through reading extensively you can gain the ability to have a good command of the chosen language.
    All the very best to you all. What’s your native language if you don’t mind me asking? I’m trying to learn many different foreign languages. 🙂

  • vs

    I am in 9th grade english and I am having a hard time with can some point me in the right direction? I need a website with FREE printable worksheeets………………HELP

  • PreciseEdit

    In response to a previous question: Yes, you need a comma before a conjunction that joins two independent clauses. By independent clause, we mean a clause that can stand alone as a complete sentence.

    For example, “The boy is going to the school” is an independent clause, as is “he is going to eat there.” These are joined by the conjunction “and.”

    The correct punctuation of this sentence is “The boy is going to the school, and he is going to eat there.” For those who are interested, we have a chapter on common comma errors (including this one) in our training manual, which is found through our website.

    One last thought: If you have read “Eats, Shoots and Leaves,” which is a great book, you know that the author espouses this rule. However, she has a hard time remembering to use this rule in her own writing. (Shame on her editor!)

  • geetha

    I want to improve my english knowledge.I couldn’t speak fluent.I have to study lot of things in grammar.Bcoz Always im speaking as wrong.(with gramatical mistake).

  • leonardo

    i need help on clauses im i p6 need as much help as possible!!!!

  • Puneet

    I want to learn good english…Please guide me how can I improve my writing as well as speaking english …

  • meylie

    have fun with english,
    I like learn english but I felt very difficult learn grammar.

  • Mano

    I want to improve my english knowledge.I couldn’t speak fluent.I have to study lot of things in grammar.Bcoz Always im speaking as wrong.(with gramatical mistake).i want to know which place i put should,could snd would?

  • Elaine Peters

    Regarding the comma in the compound sentence, if the two clauses are very short it is permissible to leave out the comma. Otherwise, it must be there. In writing, always be thinking of the reader. Will putting in the comma make it easier to read?

    Another good book on punctuation is “The New Well-Tempered Sentence” by Karen Gordon.

  • ziky

    I would to improve writing skill with grammatical rule, could you help for my problem ? thank you very much..

  • Maria

    I have a question.
    I fear darkness, and I am afraid of the dark. what is the difference between these two statements. Why do we use ‘I’ with Fear and i am with afriad.?

  • zaheer

    daily communication sentances

  • shekhar

    hi i m shekhar from mumbai (india), i have lots of problem in english language, coz i m basically varnaculum student that means kannada medium school . that time my father had’nt intersted on us in study. therefore now i m facing lots of problem, i m working uk based company, in this company i am only that man who knows little bit english only, it is so hurting me. please i request u kindly help me , i have to learn english very soon, but i don’t know it is possiable otr not. it is possible then please help me

  • Thalia

    Please advise if the following grammar is correctly used
    “As discussed this morning, we planned to have a panel discussion
    on the 2nd day of the Summitt”
    Should it not read:
    “As discussed this morning, we plan to have a panel discussion
    on the 2nd day of the Summitt”
    Please please help. Many thanks

  • MinhHanh

    I learn English to improve My English( writing, Speaking, listening, reading) . I think having abroad people ( England, Nertherland, Canada,…) to practise ( example: speak with them), My English will better than. So I try to met they to speak, chat, discuss with them about life, job.

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  • Miên

    Many year ago, I learned Russian. Now, I am learning Enghlish. I don’t beleave, when I write my thinking by Enghlish langugae. I ‘m afraid of mistake of grammar. Can you help me???

  • dilii Sharma

    Dear all
    I speak some international languages.I learned these languages not more than 2 years and can speak fluently and express anything i like.But for english i can’t do that ,i tried many time but can’t express everything i want to say.I am learnig it since my childhood.I can’t use any difficult words in the sentences.I don’t have much word power.How can i improve these.Iam waiting for the reply.
    Dilli.

  • zafira

    can someone let me know any website to ask any grammar question, because i am a TESL student and need to have some reliable sources to guide me through the lesson.

  • nova

    Salam,

    That was so helpful! Thank you so much for the great effort.

  • cing

    i want to learn more about english so that i can flently spek and use it in such a important activity or for making myself fluently speaking english

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    i want to learn more about english so that i can fluently speak and use it in such a important activities i’ve encountered everyday or for making myself doing as fluently speaking english yet

  • truongphoingoc

    Dear all :

    I am thankful to every friends have been helping me to study here, I have also join in the website: http://www.livemocha.com to studied English, I just finish the course English 101 today in Livemocha,
    Now I back to study Grammar here, I hope friends can still helping me, I am such a beginner, sure I need help in any time.

    Thank you very much !
    Have a nice day !
    Ngoc

  • truongphoingoc

    Hi again :

    I want to tell you, I have a big problem about I can not hear English from talk, and speaking English of me is also bad.
    I like learning English, I hope can improve English with listening and Speaking too.

    Thanks !
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    Hi im ajit .Now im studying MCA(master of computer application) in
    SIT college tumkur. My aim is to become a software engineer for that i have to learn better english i mean fluent english. Please Help me how to improve myself as a better english communicator. While im writing facing difficulty in writing since im a kannada medium student. Sometimes my sentences are gramatically incorrect. Because of this reason i have failed in exam.Please advice me.
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    Please Help me how to improve myself as a better english communicator. I can’t use any difficult words in the sentences.I don’t have much word power.How can i improve these. I really want to learn to speak in english fluently, to write the business letter.. can i ask you to send me.. examples: materials who i get the tip, and i assure you this is really big help for me especially to my work as a secretary.

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  • Dianne

    I agree with “PreciseEdit on January 8th, 2008 1:56 am.” I was thrilled to read “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” but also was disappointed in some of the editing and the English version of punctuation. I like quotation marks after a period, etc. I also prefer the final comma before “and.”

  • Syed Danish Ali

    Hi how are you……………..i would like to ask something regarding english language. First of all i would like to ask you, how can i speak fluently when i have no command in grammar. Secondly i want to know about gramatical structures regarding as far as is concerned, must, must have, should, should keep, no sooner did etc etc. Third one please advised me how should i do to learn english language and bringing fluency in my language.

    i am doing job in banking sector and i have to writie memo on daily basis but due to poor command on grammar i committed a mistake and i have to scold by my boss.

    please resolve my problem

    i will be optimist for your prompt response……….

    regards

    Danish…………..

  • dikhod suckmebulz

    hi my name dikhod suckmebulz and me need helped
    i am dire need of english learning, please help i need helping.

  • nafisa

    i m a teacher n we have to write daily 1 pg lesson plan.i can write that but i want that i should use good vocabulary words and properly form the sentence with good english

  • stephanie Acquah

    please help me with my poor grammar and how to speak fluently and a good tone as well

  • Seema Jagtap

    Hi,

    I jst wnt to know that where can i get a book that i can improve my skills in mumbai i want to purchase taht book

    Thanks & Regards

  • Elaheh

    Dear,
    How can I improve my speaking while nobody found to talk with me?I just pradtice writing, grammer,listening,vocabulary.

  • chamnan

    Hi! my name Chamnan, i’m from cambodia, i would like to know how
    can i speak english well and fluently. If in our country don’t use eglish language as official language how could we improve to be good at in english. who can indicate the shining way to me please.
    help! help!

  • yomi

    I plan to write a novel about my school…please help me on how to go about it….
    How can i improve my grammer ang my vocabulary?

  • wanna learn more

    I’m glad that I found this site. I always need advice on grammarical

    matters and didn’t know where to ask. I’ve got one now-Is there

    any specific reason to choose clauses rather than phrases or vice

    versa except for variations or brevity?

  • Komakech Dominic

    I would like to improve speaking and written English.what can i do?

  • Komakech Dominic

    I would like to improve my spoken and written English.what can i do?

  • Irfanullah

    I’m Irfanullah from Pakistan.i am writing this note to ask about to know,how could i be a best English speaker and writer and i should tell that how can i improve my Grammar,vocabulary,and listening skills so please help me. i need your assistnce.

  • May

    That really helped me 😀 😀

  • sadia

    hi m sadia i want to improve my english.my vocabulary is not so good i need ur help

  • BEATRICE JOHN BERNARD

    The Web is so helpful 4 me as a Scholar. I appreciate this through the Web i can really improve my English language and to speak as well. Big Up to all the Google Team members. Always remember me through my email address.

  • jakey kinz

    umm.. im board in school!!

  • toyinbo olusegun

    I want you to give all examples of phrases clauses that we have in english

  • Ashish

    Can u help me how can i improve my fluency because when i speak i do lots of blunder which are mostly concerned with grammer. how can i make my grammer strong. can u suggest me some cheap and best english spoken center. pls give ur kind advice.

  • Noreen G. Avetria

    I know this will help me a lot by getting information on writing techniques.

  • Janis Pence

    Is the sentence punctuation in this sentence correct?
    Islam was declared to be the ONLY permissible religion so the Brotherhood nationalized all “Christian” church houses by converting them to mosques or state run food warehouses.

  • PreciseEdit

    Janis,

    No. See the example under clauses in the original post. You’re missing a comma. Also, you need a hyphen in “state-run.”

    We deal with both these issues in the Precise Edit Training Manual and in our Writing Tips for a Year service. You can get both on our website at http://preciseedit.com.

  • Muhammad Ahmed Tahir

    this very cool site i’ll help me in my studies.
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  • Adeboriola

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  • Adeboriola

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  • Balaji gore

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  • Rev. Darwin W. Chea

    I want to improve my english. Can you help me?

  • Rev. Darwin W. Chea

    I need your help to my english.

  • PreciseEdit

    Balaji and Darwin: In addition to the excellent writing advice on this blog, you might check out the recommended writing resources on http://HostileEditing.com, particularly The Elements of Style and The Business Writer’s Handbook.

    Two other recommendations:
    1. Get a good dictionary and use it for checking spelling, word meaning, and correct usage. http://dictionary.com might also be useful.
    2. Read aloud well-written books. Find books that are at your English reading level (even children’s books, if necessary) and read them aloud.

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    thanks a lot, this website helped me learning english language. i got much too problem, but i sure i can speak english very well next time

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    Hi ! I want to speak and write english fluently, I’m junior in college, i still can not speak english well. Pls help me!!!!

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  • rosalva

    I want to pass my toefl test, but I think it`s very hard could you give me some advice?

    thaks a lot.

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  • Learner

    I visited this site to improve my English knowledge though..

    I just can’t speak fluently yet..I wish this site could help me out.

  • Bharath

    Watching English movies can help improve spoken English. However, I could refine my English skills through the training sessions offered by the call centre where I once worked.

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  • pooja

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  • nehemiah

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  • Hina

    I am not sure if I am writing the below phrase correctly. Can anyone advice me.

    “Our current strength is only 1 and half manpower”

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  • sowmitha

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  • arshad

    i just speak english. problem is on the moment i forget formula
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  • Rajesh Kumar

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    i want to learn about some basic of english i don’t no how to speak

  • vinu

    Nice to see so many people working hard to improve there English. After reading a few posts, i could see the way people are trying to improve. It could be seen in their words. All the very best to each.
    As said, if you have the will, you’ll definetly get the way.

  • Carmella

    Hello..i am terribly confused right now..which is grammatically correct, i didn’t know you like crabs or i didn’t know you liked crabs? And, i didn’t know singing scare you or i didn’t know singing scare you or i didn’t know singing scares you? Please help me

  • Carmella

    Hello..i am terribly confused right now..which is grammatically correct, i didn’t know you like crabs or i didn’t know you liked crabs? And, i didn’t know singing scare you or i didn’t know singing scared you or i didn’t know singing scares you? Please help me

  • This is very helpful

    I like your commitment to the study of the English language

  • kadno

    going over your website is really helpful in checking/correcting our english grammar

  • otman mahjoub

    please i want to know wich is correct:me and you or i and you and need some illustrations ……thank you

  • vishnu

    I have forgotten what the proper punctuation is for titles. What should I do when its a Magazine vs. Book vs. Play vs. Movie? Some are italicized, underlined, bolded.

  • pallab

    i m truly satisfied to be a part of this website because it is helping me much .
    pallab
    from Bangladesh

  • zham

    I’m very thankful to be fart of this website, please help me to improve my grammar, thank you very much

  • marina

    My son has been given a task to write sentences with phrases in them. We don’t really know what it means.
    Help anybody?

  • marina

    to otman mahjoub:
    If you’re acting, then it will be “you and I” (e.g. “you and I will go to the park tomorrow”), but when somebody is acting towards you, use “you and me” (e.g. “they will explain it to you and me”)
    Hope it helps

  • sneha

    your grammar is very good

  • Sujata

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    i want write, read, & speak English perfectly

  • saji

    I want speak and write english without grammaticl problum.Please do the needful.

  • bilal cheema

    i want to learn English writing and speaking power. It is my greatest desire and want to fulfill it so someone is requested to guide me how can i improve my speaking and writing power in English.

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  • Irfan Amani

    Actually, I just wanna ask about improvement in Vocabulary.

    I may really appreciated if this problem solved!

  • ahmedpass

    I think vocab in english is just like any other practice. i.e if you use grasp instead of understand and you use to say it in your daily conversations it will be normal

  • Sathish Kannan

    I want to learn english

  • sweety

    i’m in my second year at the university ,and i have many probleme in english language i can”t express my ideas and i have a problme in grammar and in the structure of the sentence and in tense i don’t know when i use all so tense .beacuse of this i feel i’m stupid when i see my classemate speak english fluently and write a big phara and essay without any probleme ..plz help me to improve my english

  • gil

    Wow! this so wonderful! Everyone who study English will really appreciate it! Thanks a lot!

  • joy

    i want to speak and write english correctly…thats my problem my grammar is always wrong…:c

  • YEDNAP

    I want to improve my English language. i have a problme in grammar and in the structure of the sentence and in tense i don’t know when i use all so tense .

  • Debra Stiles

    I was helping my sister pack her dishes and the follow statement was made.

    I don’t want the dish to get broke.
    I don’t want the dish to get broken.

    Which is correct.

  • Lee

    Hello! U guys are great and doing well cause i can see people’s comment on your page. Today is my first time on your web page, i was given presentation on clause and phrase with their examples to be summited week. Also i have grammar problem mostly on structure of english language and i need your help to throw more light on the topic.

  • Dan

    Daniel, you wrote:

    Daniel on November 13, 2007 9:04 pm
    Benjamin, the comma on that spot is a matter of style. It is the same as in these two examples:
    I like three fruits: apple, banana, and lemon.
    I like three fruits: apple, banana and lemon.
    Both versions are correct; they just represent two different styles.

    I am not sure you are correct in using that example as a comparison because one is a list separator, and the other separates two different clauses. I believe that Benjimin is correct.

    It is also arguable that a comma or an omitted comma before the last item in a list changes the meaning of the sentence. A comma clearly defines that the last item is a separate entity in the list; whereas an omitted comma would indicate that the last two items are grouped together as a single item in the list.

    I may be off the mark, but I thought it would be worth submitting for discussion.

  • trusts

    Really, am looking for for help since i have done toefl for three times but had 72 instead of a minimum of 80 points needed.
    My problems are with the reading, and when to use commas in a sentence.

  • aparna

    I wanna speak very good english please guide me and send me useful materials for removing gramatical error.

  • shakaib

    i wnat to use english phrases in sentences for example instead of died we can write take his last breath so which website i visit to learn this can some one guide me.

  • LINDA RULON

    Which is better: I got and A, I received and A, I earned and A?

  • raja

    I want to improve the English.

  • lilian

    am often told to paraphrase my sentences by my supervisors, what is the problem with the sentences.

  • lilian

    I am often told to paraphrase my sentences by my supervisors, what is the problem with the sentences.

  • layla

    i f i said did i enjoy the play or not ???what will be the answer yes or not i enjoy it

  • Jennifer

    I was searching for recurring and reoccurring and found this site. Why do so many places say reoccurring is okay to use but it’s not in the dictionary? I have always used recurring. Can any give me their insight on it? Thanks.

  • preeti chauhan

    Hi,this is preeti and i m trying to improve my english on daily basis.And how can i dcrease my grammatical mistakes.can i improve with the help of NET.can i chat with anybody with your help.

  • Puneet sharma

    please help me about english,that i want can speek english & i want some understand problem, while i could in future full command in english pls. sir i always your respect if u to help me for spoken english… Thanku so much, Puneet Sharma, Bulandshahr (u.p.)

  • Lavina

    Hello,
    I can speak english but the only problem occur is i am unable to improve my grammatical mistakes. Kindly help me for improving my grammar and also vocabulary so that i can speak well.
    Thanks and Regards
    Lavina

  • tanvir

    what is actual difference between simple present tense and running present tense

  • Kantie

    All I need is worksheets with sentences that have the wrong grammar so I can try to correct them…

  • raaz bhagat

    I’m really want to speaking a well english for good impresstion among the people but sometimes a problem is that i have need to be think what should i express ???
    Even if I learnt so many gammer books …………
    So give me some tips to learnt a best way of speaking perfect englsh… I’m waiting!!!!!!

  • Dheeraj

    The simplicity of this website has made it more better for readers.

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