Grammar

Difference Between Clause and Sentence

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Main Difference

The main difference between a Clause and Sentence is that Clause is a collection of words having a subject and predicate but does not necessarily express a complete thought, whereas Sentence is a collection of words having a subject and predicate expressing an unimpaired thought.

Clause vs. Sentence

A clause is considered as a unit of grammar below the sentence in rank and consists of a subject and predicate and does not always express a complete thought whereas a sentence has a subject and predicate and expresses a complete thought. A clause may be a part of a sentence, but a sentence is an independent identity that stands alone. A clause may be dependent or independent; on the other hand, a sentence may be simple, complex, compound, or compound-complex.

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A clause sometimes carries a complete thought, whereas a sentence cannot be called a sentence if it does not convey a complete thought. A clause may act as a noun, adverb, and adjective on the contrary sentence never act as a noun, adjective, or adverb. A clause is a building block of sentence on the flip side sentence is composed of two or more clauses joined together with the help of conjunctions.

A clause has a subject and a verb, whereas a sentence has a subject and predicate in it. A dependent clause cannot stand alone and needs an independent clause, on the other hand, a sentence is a complex of dependent, and independent clauses joined together. A clause cannot be called a sentence, but a sentence can be called a clause.

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Comparison Chart

ClauseSentence
A clause is defined as a group of words having a subject and predicate.A sentence is defined as a collection of words having a subject and predicate and expresses an unimpaired thought.
Types
TwoFour
Complex
Not a complexA complex of dependent and independent clauses
Composition
Composed of subject and predicateComposed of dependent and independent clauses
Complete Thought
Does not express a complete thoughtExpresses a complete thought
Existence
Cannot exist independentlyExist as an independent identity
Purpose
It takes the place of a noun, verb, and adjective.It never acts as a noun, verb, and adjective.
Main Focus
It focuses on structure i.e., having a subject and predicate.It focuses on conveying the main thought.
Example
As she was tired, so she went to sleep.The murderer killed the boss.

What is Clause?

A clause is defined as a group of words having a subject and predicate. The verb in a clause must be apparent, whereas the subject may be hidden. Simple sentences usually have one clause, and complex sentences have more than one clause. In other words, a clause is a member of the sentence. There are two types of clauses, i.e., dependent clause and independent clause.

A dependent clause is a clause that does not convey any meaning on its own. It needs another clause to convey its complete meaning. Dependent clauses are generally combined with independent clauses through conjunctions. For example, if you work hard, you will succeed. The first part of the sentence is a dependent clause as it does not convey any meaning on its own.

An independent clause imparts meaning on its own. It does not need the help of any other clause to convey its meaning. For example, Ann, Joe and I went to her place for the party as she had invited us.

Dependent clauses are further of three types i.e., Adverbial clause, Noun clause, and Adjective clause. The adverbial clause modifies and enhances an adverb or plays its role. For example, when the moon rises, we would go for a walk; the second part of the sentence explains when something would happen, so it is an adverbial clause. Noun clause modifies a noun and sometimes gives its further explanation. For example, Ann could not remember what she said in the morning. The adjective clause modifies and enhances an adjective. For example, Aunt Emma, who lives in England, is seriously ill.

What is a Sentence?

A sentence is a collection of words having a subject and predicate expressing an unimpaired thought. It may be an order, request, command, question, or statement. It sometimes contains a main clause or a group of subordinate clauses. A predicate is a piece of information conveyed about the subject. The least part of the sentence is a subject and the main verb. It may lack an object. A sentence must have a full stop at its end.

Types

  • Simple Sentences: Simple Sentences are those which contain one main clause only. For example, The black dog is barking. This sentence is simple. It has a subject and a predicate articulating a complete thought.
  • Compound Sentences: Compound Sentence consists of two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. Conjunctions are words such as ‘and, but, or, nor, so and yet.’ Commas, semicolon, or colon can also be placed between independent clauses. For example, It started to rain, everyone was happy.
  • Complex Sentences: Complex Sentences are composed of more than one dependent clause and minimum an independent clause. A dependent clause cannot stand alone and needs an independent clause to convey its meaning completely. For example, They ate all the food, as they were hungry.
  • Compound-Complex Sentences: Compound-Complex Sentences posses more than one independent clause and more than one dependent clause. For example, She worked hard, tried again and again, but she failed. In the example, there are three clauses the first part of the sentence is an independent clause, the second part is a dependent clause, and the third part is also a dependent clause.

Key Differences

  1. A clause is a group of words having a subject and predicate; on the other hand, a sentence is a group of words having a subject and the main verb expressing a complete thought.
  2. A clause sometimes expresses a complete thought, whereas a sentence must convey a complete thought.
  3. A clause may function as a noun, adverb, or adjective; on the opposing side, a sentence cannot function as a noun, adverb, or adjective.
  4. In a clause, the main focus is on its structure i.e., it must have a subject and predicate; conversely, a sentence has the main focus of conveying information.
  5. A clause sometimes exists independently, but a sentence is always an independent identity.
  6. A clause is not complex, whereas a sentence is a complex of clauses.
  7. A clause is of two types i.e., dependent and independent clause; on the flip side, sentences are of four types, i.e., simple, complex, compound, and compound-complex sentences.
  8. A clause is composed of subject and predicate; conversely, a sentence is composed of two or more dependent and independent clauses.

Conclusion:

It is concluded that clause and sentence are units of grammar, clause being a part of the sentence, and the sentence is a larger unit.

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Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson