Words, Phrases, Clauses & Sentences
Words, phrases, clauses, and sentences constitute what is called the grammatical hierarchy. Words are at the lowest level of the hierarchy. At the other end of the hierarchy, sentences are at the top of the hierarchy.
First we have words.
car - a vehicle with an engine, four wheels, and seats for a small number of passengers (is s a noun - it names things in a sentence)
crashed - an accident in which a vehicle hits something (is a verb - it tells us what happens in a sentence)
big - large or serious (is an adjective - it gives us more detail about a noun)
A phrase is a short, single piece of information:
the big car
an old house
a young woman
A group of words containing a subject and a verb, that is usually only part of a sentence. A clause includes a little more information.
the big car crashed
In this clause, the noun phrase is the big car and the verb is crashed
Put a capital letter at the beginning of the clause and a full stop at the end:
The big car crashed.
And that is the sentence. But a simple sentence. A simple sentence consists of one clause that has a subject and a verb.
When I was driving the big car crashed.
That is a complex sentence. A complex sentence contains one main clause that can make sense on its own, and one or more minor clauses that are linked to it.
When I was driving the big car crashed because it has a puncture.
As you can see we can add more minor clauses to make a more complex sentence.