A clause must have a subject and a verb, whether it is independent or dependent. An independent clause expresses a complete idea that can stand alone (example: “Tony jumped the fence.”).

A dependent clause does not express a complete idea; although it has a subject and a verb, it needs additional information to complete the thought (example: “Although Tony jumped the fence,”).

A phrase consists of two or more words that act as a part of speech; phrases don’t have a subject and a verb (example: “The brown wooden fence”; this phrase functions as a noun).

Knowing the difference between independent and dependent clauses and phrases is necessary for proper sentence construction, punctuation, and writing. It is also helpful when taking standardized tests with writing sections, such as the SAT and ACT.

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