Some English students may have difficulties to know the difference between a phrase and a sentence. In order to clear this ambiguity, it is a good idea to see what they mean.
A phrase is a group of words that stand together as a single unit, typically as part of a clause or a sentence.
A phrase does not contain a subject and verb and, consequently, cannot convey a complete thought.
Here are some examples:
In the air (prepositional phrase)
Besides the bed (prepositional phrase)
Along the road (prepositional phrase)
To live and breathe (infinitive phrase)
Looking stunning (participle phrase)
As you can see we have different types of phrases depending on what words they are consisted of.
If they start with a proposition it is called a prepositional phrase, if it starts with to it is called an infinitive phrase and so on….
Now, what is a sentence then?
According to Oxford dictionary, a sentence is a set of words that is complete in itself, typically containing a subject and predicate, conveying a statement, question, exclamation, or command, and consisting of the main clause and sometimes one or more subordinate clauses.
There are four types of sentences.
A declarative sentence states a fact and ends with a period / full stop.
The earth goes around the sun.
An imperative sentence is a command or a polite request. It ends with an exclamation mark or a period / full stop.
Listen! Somebody is calling you.
An interrogative sentence asks a question and ends with a question mark.
Do you have any money to lend me?
An exclamatory sentence expresses excitement or emotion. It ends with an exclamation mark.
Isn’t it wonderful that Jack my best friend is also invited? I’m so excited!
Other than a phrase and a sentence there is another thing that is good to know about and that is a clause.
A clause is a group of words that includes a subject and a verb. They are different from phrases in that they have subject and verb and are different from sentences in that they can be dependent in another sentence to make sense.
It means by being alone they don’t have a complete meaning.
Example: A computer once beat me at chess but was no match for me at kick boxing. Like phrase clauses have different types too but their basic definition is the same.