English Grammar 101: Sentences, Clauses and Phrases

By Daniel Scocco - 1 minute read

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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.

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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.

  • Intan

    hi, im intan from Malaysia… i have lots of problem in english… can you help me to solve this problem?

  • Intan

    i really want to speak in speak in english everyday.. but i got too much problems in english… i always like too watch english movies, listening too english song… its all because of english… i really3 have too much problems in english.. can you please3 help me too improve my english??

  • 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

  • cing

    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

    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 !
    Ngoc

  • truongphoingoc

    Dear all :

    I am thankful to every friends have been helping me to study here. 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

  • Sovan

    I don’t know how to write English correctly.
    please give me some advice.

  • sandra

    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.

  • ajit hiremath

    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.
    thanks

  • ajit hiremath

    Please help me for fluent english.

  • Alireza Taghdarreh

    I teach English in Iran. I find your material very useful for myself and my students. Thank you.

  • hamlet

    english lang is my favorit iwant to improve it i need your help for fluent english

  • Reva Nair

    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.

  • kamalesh

    plz help me for fuent english

  • 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.

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