A clause is a group of words in a sentence. It is different from a phrase as it contains a subject and a finite verb, and tells you about one idea.

For example: “A man lived in the forest with his wife and his daughter.”  In this sentence, “lived” is the finite verb, and “A man lived in the forest” is a clause. It tells you one idea. (The rest of the sentence, “with his wife and daughter” is a phrase that tells you more about the main idea. Remember, a phrase does not have a finite verb.)

More examples:

  • After the news, Monde went to bed. (The finite verb is “went”, and “Monde went to bed” is a clause, with one idea. “After the news” is a phrase.)
  • Nastai’s mother died after a long illness. (The finite verb is “died” and “Nastai’s mother died is a clause with one idea. “After a long illness” is a phrase.)

Sentences can have more than one clause. The number of finite verbs will tell you how many clauses there are.

  • Examples: I was sad to hear that Nastai’s mother died (Two clauses: “I was sad to hear” and “that Nastai’s mother died”.)
  • Monde went to bed after he watched the news on television. (Two clauses: “Monde went to bed” and “after he watched the news on television”.)
  • A bus crashed into our car while my mother was driving and now our car is badly damaged. (Three clauses: “A bus crashed into our car”, “while my mother was driving”, and “and now our car is badly damaged”.)