Clause and Phrase

 Write a definition for each of the following terms and write a related sentence underlining the demonstrated example of the term in use.


 Independent Clause

Subordinate Clause

Nonrestrictive Clause

Elliptical Clause (You will not be able to demonstrate this term in use, why?)

Relative Pronoun

Adjective Clause

Adverb Clause

Subordinating Conjunction


Infinitive Phrase

Gerund Phrase


Participial Phrase

Prepositional Phrase

Adjective Phrase

Adverb Phrase

Appositive Phrase


Go to the links below in order to learn how to recognize independent and subordinate clauses as well as the five types of phrases that we will study.

Clause/Phrase Recognition Game

Clause Type Quiz

Clause or Phrase Type Quiz

Phrase Type Quiz

Verbal Phrases Recognition Quiz

Phrase Type Quiz

Prepositional Phrase Type Quiz

Gerund/Participle Recognition Quiz


A phrase is a group of words that do not contain a subject and its verbs.  Phrases serve as a single part of speech.

VERBALS– A verbal is a word formed from a verb but functioning as a different part of speech.


An infinitive phrase consists of an infinitive — the root of the verb preceded by to — and any modifiers or complements associated with it. Infinitive phrases can act as adjectives, adverbs, and nouns.

  • Her plan to subsidize child care won wide acceptance among urban politicians. [modifies plan, functions as an adjective]
  • She wanted to raise taxes. [noun-object of the sentence]
  • To watch Uncle Billy tell this story is an eye-opening experience. [noun-subject of the sentence]


Gerunds are verbals that end in -ing and that act as nouns, frequently are associated with modifiers and complements in a gerund phrase. These phrases function as units and can do anything that a noun can do.

  • Cramming for tests is not a good study strategy. [gerund phrase as subject]
  • John enjoyed swimming in the lake after dark. [gerund phrase as object]
  • I’m really not interested in studying biochemistry for the rest of my life. [gerund phrase as object of the preposition in ]


Present participles, verbals ending in -ing, and past participles, verbals that end in -ed (for regular verbs) or other forms (for irregular verbs), are combined with complements and modifiers and become part of important phrasal structures. Participial phrases comonly act as adjectives.

  • The stone steps, having been worn down by generations of students, needed to be replaced. [modifies “steps”]
  • Working around the clock, the firefighters finally put out the last of the California brush fires. [modifies “firefighters”]
  • The pond, frozen over since early December, is now safe for ice-skating. [modifies “pond”]


A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition, a noun or pronoun that serves as the object of the preposition, and, more often than not, an adjective or two that modifies the object.  A prepositional phrase will either serve as an adjective or an adverb.

A prepositional phrase will function as an adjective or adverb.

A prepositional phrase that modifies a subject is an adjective phrase.  An prepositional adjective phrase is always located next to the subject that it modifies.  As an adjective, the prepositional phrase will answer the question Which one?
The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white.
In this sentence the prepositional phrase serves as an adjective modifying the noun hills.

A prepositional phrase that modifies an adjective, adverb or verb in a sentence is an adverb phrase.  As an adverb, a prepositional phrase will answer questions such as How? When? or Where?
He waited impatiently on this side where there was no shade and no trees.
In this sentence the prepositional phrase serves as an adverb phrase modifying where he waited.


An appositive is a re-naming or amplification of a word that immediately precedes it.   It is  made up of a noun or pronoun that follows another noun or pronoun to identify or explain it.

  • My favorite teacher, a fine chess player in her own right, has won several state-level tournaments. [Noun phrase as appositive]


Phrase Review

Read the following paragraph and indicate the type of phrase that each of the italicized group of words represents corresponding with the number that is located above them.

A.  gerund phrase     B.  appositive phrase     C.  participial phrase     D. infinitive phrase
E. prepositional phrase

              1                          2                                                                                                  3
Cheating on tests
, an offensive act, is often overlooked.  Al’s  cheat sheet, under his test,

is an indication of his lack of self-respect.  The grade, an ultimate goal, is meaningless

   5                                          6             
under such conditions
To find fulfillment, one must take an active role in his life.

                   7                       8                                                         9
Achieving success
, in everything, should be the goal of anyone.  A genuine student of life,

an honest person, has an endless appetite for knowledge that is provoked by curiosity and

wonder.  I observe many students, seeking externally, what can only be discovered from

13                                                                                                          14
within.  Studying for tests, is a self-fulfilling manifestation.  The assessment, backed by

learning principles
, is only important when sustainable achievement is achieved.


1. A     2.  B     3. E     4. B


 CLAUSE–  a group of words consisting of a subject and its predicate (verb)

INDEPENDENT CLAUSE- a clause that can stand on its own as a sentence

SUBORDINATE CLAUSE- a clause that cannot stand alone as a separate sentence since its meaning depends on the meaning of the main clause and simply gives additional information in the sentence.

RELATIVE PRONOUN- a pronoun that begins a subordinate clause and is related to another word or idea, Relative pronoun is usually used to introduce an adjective clause:

Young-Hee, who is a Korean student, lives in Victoria.

EXAMPLE:  I cannot believe that he said “Hello”.

A relative pronoun is found only in sentences with more than one clause.

In modern English there are five relative pronouns: that, which, who, whom, and whose.

ADJECTIVE CLAUSE- a subordinate clause, that like an adjective modifies a noun or pronoun

EXAMPLE:  Young-Hee, who is a Korean student, lives in Victoria.

NOUN CLAUSE-  a subordinate clause used as a noun

What the English teacher said was downright inspiring.

(This noun clause is used as a subject.)

ADVERB CLAUSE-  a subordinate clause that, like an adverb, modifies an adjective, verb or adverb.

They arrived before the game had ended.

SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTION- a conjunction that begins an adverb clause while serving to join the clause to the rest of the sentence.

EXAMPLE:  He was wearing a coat, although it was hot

ELLIPTICAL CLAUSE- an incomplete adverb clause where the completed clause is in the reader’s and writer’s mind.   An elliptical clause is a clause in which some words have been left out. Because of the pattern or logic of the entire sentence, it is clear what the missing words are.

An elliptical clause may be either independent or subordinate.

Example: Jessica had five dollars; Monica, three.
(The verb had was dropped from the second clause, but the meaning is still clear.)

NONRESTRICTIVE CLAUSE-  tell you something about a preceding subject, but they do not limit, or restrict, the meaning of that subject.
EXAMPLE:  The suspect in the lineup, who owns a red car, committed the crime.

The following exercise is not mandatory, but is provided for those of you who wish to challenge your understanding of prepositional phrases further.
Indicate by using the letter assigned to the selection whether the underlined group of words is an adjectival prepositional phrase or an adverbial prepositional phrase.

A adjectival                             B adverbial

1. Coffee comes from many parts of the world.

2. A warm climate is the best kind of climate for coffee growing.

3. Therefore, the best coffee is grown in countries around the equator.

4. Some examples of such countries are Kenya, Colombia, Guatemala, and Indonesia.

5. But the best coffee plants need more than just the proper climate in a region.

6. Coffee plants also need a lot of rain.

7. The best coffee beans, called Arabica beans, grow best at high altitudes.

8. Some of the world’s best coffee grows in rain forest or jungle areas.

9. The popularity of coffee grew quickly in the 1990s.

10. The birth of new coffee shops around the world made the business more profitable.

11. From the tree to the cup, coffee beans go through many changes.

12. When they are picked from the plant, the beans are hidden inside a berry.

13. Most coffee berries are the hiding places for two coffee beans.

14. But some berries hold three beans, which is considered to be a sign of good luck.

15. Still other berries might hold only one bean; these berries are given the name  of “pea

16. All coffee beans must be separated from the berry.

 17. Once that is done, the coffee beans are washed and then dried in the sun.

 18. These beans still do not look like the coffee beans you see in the store.

 19. They are green beans, and they must be roasted to perfection.

 20. Finally, they are ground and brewed into a delicious beverage.

1. B adverbial
2. B adverbial
3.  A adjectival
4.  adverbial
5.  adjectival
6.  adverbial
7.  adverbial
8.  adverbial
9.  adverbial
10. adjectival
11. adverbial
12.  adverbial
13. adverbial
14. adjectival
15.  adjectival
16. adverbial
17. adverbial
18. adverbial
19.  adverbial
20.  adverbial

More Phrase/Clause Practices:

Phrase Quiz #1

Phrase Quiz #2

Prepositional Phrase Battleship Game

Prepositional Phrase Quiz

Clause Practice #1

Clause Practice #2

Clause Practice #3