Conjunctions join phrases and clauses.
Phrases – A phrase is a part of a sentence but could never be a full sentence because it does not have both a subject and a verb. A phrase can be a group of words that act as a noun, adverb or adjective;
- ‘the big cat’ (noun phrase)
- ‘with the strength of ten men’ (a prepositional phrase that acts as an adjective)
- ‘for several days’ (acting as an adverb)
Clauses – A clause is a group of words that can be a sentence but is not always a sentence. Clauses have both a subject (A noun or pronoun ) and a verb (a phrase containing a verb is the predicate)
Examples of phrases and clauses
- ‘The moon shines brightly’ – This is an independent clause because it has a subject (the moon), a verb (shone), and it stands on its own as a sentence. The adverb (brightly) is an intensifier, it increases the shine of the moon.
- ‘The best university in Texas’ – This is a phrase because it has a subject but no verb. The adjective (best) is a superlative, which means that it is the highest level of the noun (university).
Dependent and independent clauses
A dependent clause has both a subject and a verb, however, adding subordinating conjunction to a clause makes it a phrase and no longer a clause.
For example, ‘I ate the cake’ is a clause. ‘Because I ate the cake’ is a phrase and no longer stands on its own as a sentence because we need to know what else is going on for the sentence to make sense. Other examples of subordinating conjunctions are ‘although, and while.
A relative clause is a dependent clause that starts with a relative pronoun. Examples of relative pronouns are,
Relative pronouns, like all pronouns, stand-in for another part of the sentence (for example a noun, or a noun phrase). An example is, ‘We need to find a store that sells watermelon.’ The relative pronoun ‘that’ stands in for the noun ‘store’. The first part of the sentence is an independent clause ‘We need to find a store.’ The second part of the sentence ‘that sells watermelon.’ It is a relative clause that relies on the independent clause to make sense.
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