What is a clause?

A clause is a pattern of words that consists of a subject and a predicate.

Study the following examples:

Subject Predicate
The dog chased the rabbit.
The singer is very talented.
My friend won the race.
Betty likes classical music.
The horse drank water.


Clauses are the basic building block of the English sentence.

Note: In many ways, a clause is the same thing as a sentence. In fact, we often use the words "clause" and "sentence" interchangeably. However, keep in mind that they are not exactly the same thing.

If you have just one brick, you can call it a wall. (Think of a very small wall!)

But very often, a wall consists of many bricks that have been lined up and stacked.

Similarly, if you have just one clause, it's easy to turn that clause into a sentence: Just capitalize the first letter and put a period at the end!

However, often you will want to put several clauses together, to build compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences.

We will learn more about these sentence types later in the course.