Sentences, Phrases, and Clauses

Sentences, Phrases, and Clauses

We’ve collected some common questions from teachers about how to teach sentences, phrases, and clauses. The questions and answers are below.

An Adverb Phrase or a Clause?

Question:

How can I explain the difference between an adverb phrase and an adverb clause?

Answer:

First, determine that the group of words modifies a verb, an adjective, or an adverb. Once you have done this, check to see if the group of words in question contains a subject and a predicate. All clauses, whether adverb, adjective, or noun, will have a subject and predicate.

The Difference between a Phrase and a Clause

Question:

How do I help my students better understand the difference between a phrase and a clause?

Answer:

Although both phrases and clauses are a group of related words that can have a variety of functions within a sentence, they are very different. The biggest difference between the two is that a clause always has a subject and a predicate, while a phrase never has a subject nor a predicate. You may want to post the examples below. Phrase: The girl in the green shirt knew the answer. In this example, in the green shirt is a phrase. It does not have a subject or a predicate. It is a prepositional phrase functioning as an adjective. Clause: Maria, the girl wearing the green shirt, knew the answer. In this sentence the girl wearing the green shirt is a clause. It contains a subject (girl) and a predicate (wearing). This clause modifies Maria, making it an adjective clause. You may wish to write on the board several examples until you feel students grasp this concept.

Finding the Subject of an Imperative Sentence

Question:

What is the subject of an imperative sentence? I can’t seem to find any.

Answer:

Often, the subject in an imperative sentence is the implied word you, which never actually appears in the sentence. For example, (You) Wash the dishes, please.

Indirect Objects

Question:

My students need help finding indirect objects. How can I help?

Answer:

Draw on the board a visual like the one below:

Write on the board several example sentences and answer this series of questions. Another trick is to move the direct object to the end of the sentence and add the word to or for. For example:

She gave me a dollar. She gave a dollar to me.

In this example, me is the direct object.

Searching for Subject and Object Complements

Question:

My kids have trouble recognizing subject and object complements. Is there a creative way to show or explain to them how to locate these concepts in a sentence?

Answer:

A subject complement is a noun that renames the subject. It always follows a linking verb, such as forms of be, become, or remain. In the following example, teacher is the subject complement: Mr. Kennedy is my teacher. Tell your students to turn the linking verbs into equal signs. This should help them see that the subject complement renames the subject. Mr. Kennedy = teacher Just as a subject complement renames the subject, an object complement renames the direct object. In the example below, president is the object complement: We voted Stephanie class president. In this example president renames Stephanie. You may wish to have your students draw equal signs to show the relationship between direct objects and object complements. Stephanie = president