Word, Phrase, Clause and Sentence
The following is a grouping of word units and sentences in English language and in most languages as well:
A word is the smallest meaningful unit in language.
Examples of words:
A phrase is a single piece of information made up of more than one word. It does not contain a subject and a verb.
Examples of phrases:
- An ambiguous word.
- A correct sentence
- A two foot-fish
- Troublesome Michael
- Sweet Coca-Cola drink
- On the table
A clause is a single piece of information made up of more than one word which contains a subject and a verb.
Examples of clauses dependent clauses:
- If you use an ambiguous word....
- Although it is a correct sentence...
- When we caught a two foot-fish....
- Even if Michael passed exams.....
- Unless you buy me sweet Coca-Cola drink.....
Examples of clauses independent clauses:
- No one will understand you.
- It does not convey the complete thought.
- We threw it in the big boat.
- He will not go to the college.
- I won't tell you anything.
Note: A clause that stands alone as a sentence is known as an independent clause. A clause that cannot stand alone is known as dependent or subordinate clause.
A sentence conveys a complete idea. It contains at least one clause.
A sentence is also defined as a word or a group of words that expresses a complete idea. A sentence is the largest unit of grammar in any language.
A sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop.
Examples of sentences:
- Come here!
- I'm not sure about it.
- She's my daughter.
- The President is visiting us today.
- We caught a big fish yesterday in Lake Tanganyika.
- When we were fishing, we caught a huge fish.
- The President will arrive soon.
- You should get ready now because the President will arrive soon.
5. Simple Sentence
A simple sentence is a short sentence with basic elements that make it a sentence. These basic elements are: subject, a verb, and a completed thought.
Examples of simple sentences:
- They waited for me.
(This sentence has "Joe" as a subject, "waited" as a verb, and it has a complete thought.)
- The bus was late.
- Mary and Sam took the bus.
- I looked after the baby.
- They arrived at the bus station early but they waited until noon for the bus.
6. Compound Sentence
A compound sentence is a sentence made up of at least two independent clauses. It is mostly joined by coordinating conjunctions.
Examples of compound sentences:
- We caught a big fish and we cooked it.
- No one cares about me. But they need me.
- A teacher arrived, and we stopped making noises.
- We may win or we may lose.
7. Complex Sentence
A complex sentence is an independent clause supported by at least one other clause.
Examples of complex sentences:
- When the teacher arrived, we stopped making noises.
- If you use an ambiguous word, no one will understand you.
- Although it is a correct sentence, it does not convey the complete thought.
- When we caught a two foot-fish, we threw it in the big boat.
- Even if Michael passed exams, he would not go to the college.
- Unless you buy me sweet Coca-Cola drink, I won't tell you anything.
Note: We'll learn more about sentences and other types of sentences later in this course.