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Phrases & Clauses. And why commas are important!. Word classes. Every word in the English language belongs to a “class”. It will be one of the following: a noun a verb an adjective a n adverb a pronoun a conjunction

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phrases clauses

Phrases & Clauses

And why commas are important!

word classes
Word classes
  • Every word in the English language belongs to a “class”. It will be one of the following:
    • a noun
    • a verb
    • an adjective
    • an adverb
    • a pronoun
    • a conjunction
    • a determiner (occurs with a noun or noun phrase – e.g. ‘the’, ‘a’, ‘this’, ‘my’, ‘fewer’ etc.)
    • a preposition (usually indicates the temporal, spatial or logical relationship of its object to the rest of the sentence – e.g. ‘on’, ‘beneath’, ‘against’, ‘during’)
phrases or clauses
Phrases or clauses
  • We then tend to group words into larger groups known as phrases or clauses.
  • Phrase is the term used for a word or group of words, based on a particular word class.
  • Just as every word can be described according to its word class, so too can a sentence be divided into different types of phrase.
  • Three main types of phrase:
    • Noun phrase (built around a noun)
    • Verb phrase (built around a verb)
    • Adverbial phrase (additional info. relating to place / time / manner or frequency)
  • Copy down the following sentence and for each underlined phrase, state whether it is a noun phrase, a verb phrase or an adverbial phrase:
    • He passed the broken window.
    • She dived into the pool gracefully.
    • They had been shaken by the noise.
    • Tim drove into town twice.
  • He passed the broken window. NOUN
  • She dived into the pool gracefully. ADVERBIAL
  • They had been shaken by the noise. VERB
  • Tim drove into town twice. ADVERBIAL
  • A clause contains both a verb phrase and other types of phrases.
  • Generally speaking the longer a sentence is, the more clauses it is bound to contain.
types of clauses
Types of Clauses
  • Single / independent clause:
      • A phrase or group of phrases that makes sense on its own – e.g. I lingered at the bottom of the road.
  • Coordinate clause:
      • Two clauses of equal status joined by a conjunction – e.g. I shivered in the mist and turned my collar up.
  • Main clause:
      • Like a single clause can form a sentence by itself, but has a subordinate clause added to it (see next definition).
  • Subordinate clause:
      • One that is in some way dependent on another for its meaning (also known as dependent clause).
      • For example: As I did every morning, I looked up at the sky.
the rules
The Rules:
  • A single clause can stand on its own as a sentence.
  • The two parts of a coordinate clause can stand on their own as sentences.
  • The main clause can stand on its own in a sentence.
  • The subordinate / dependent clause cannot stand alone as a sentence.
the main rule
The Main Rule:
  • ALWAYS use commas to separate subordinate / dependent clauses and main clauses within a sentence!
the comma
The comma ,
  • Commas mark smaller breaks or pauses than full stops.
  • They must not be used to link two independent statements that could stand alone as sentences (single or main clauses). This creates what is referred to as a COMMA SPLICE – YUCK!
how to avoid the comma splice
How to avoid the comma splice

This is a smug person.

Smug people do not use comma splices!

  • All you have to do is introduce one of two things after your comma: a connective or a relative pronoun.
  • “This is not a comma splice, because the two main clauses are separated by a comma.”
  • “This was once a comma splice, in which the two main clauses were separated by a comma.”
  • Commas also separate subordinate clauses from main clauses.
  • Subordinate clauses give extra information but aren’t necessary for the sentence to make sense:
  • Anthony, having run fast, was exhausted.
  • Commas are also used to list items.
  • Commas introduce and end direct speech.