What is a clause?

Have you noticed that we have never actually defined what a "clause" is? That's because clauses are notoriously hard to define.

A typical definition found in many textbooks is this:

But that definition is fairly useless. A slightly better definition is this:

Subject Predicate
The dog chased the rabbit.
The singer is very talented.


An even better definition is this:

5 Basic Clause Patterns
  1. equative
  2. intransitive
  3. transitive
  4. ditransitive
  5. dummy subject


As we continue our study of grammar, you will find your ability to recognize clauses very useful. They are truly the basic building blocks of the English sentence.