Clauses and sentences - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionaries Online

Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

Clauses and sentences

from English Grammar Today

What is a clause?

A clause is the basic unit of grammar. A clause must contain a verb. Typically a clause is made up of a subject, a verb phrase and, sometimes, a complement:

I’ve eaten.

The sale starts at 9 am.

I didn’t sleep well last night.

Are you listening to the radio?

What is a sentence?

A sentence is a unit of grammar. It must contain at least one main clause. It can contain more than one clause. In writing, a sentence typically begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop:

She spoke to me. (one clause)

I looked at her and she smiled at me. (two main clauses connected by and)

We didn’t go to the show because there weren’t any tickets left. (a main clause and a subordinate clause connected by because)

In everyday speaking, it is often difficult to identify sentences. We speak in small stretches of language, sometimes just single words or phrases. We don’t always speak in complete sentences, and we often complete each other’s ‘sentences’:

Right.

Let’s go.

A:

What are those flowers?

B:

Which ones?

A:

The pink ones over there.

A:

Did I tell you I’m going to do a course in um

B:

Computing?

A:

No, business studies.

(“Clauses and sentences” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Word of the Day

a game in hand

if a sports team has a game in hand over other teams in a competition, it still has another game to play in which it can gain points

Word of the Day

What’s All The Commotion About? (Words to describe sounds)

by Kate Woodford,
May 20, 2015
​​​ In this post we look at a range of words and phrases that we use to describe noise and the absence of noise. Starting with complete quiet, we sometimes use the noun hush to describe silence: A hush fell over the room as the bride walked in./There was a deathly hush (=complete

Read More 

ancestral health noun

May 25, 2015
diet based on the presumed diet of our Palaeolithic ancestors ‘Ancestral health,’ to use a term popular among Paleo followers, has gone mass.

Read More