Phrases And Clauses: Introduction

Conversing in longer sentences seem to be the goal of any language learner. After all, longer sentences make us more ‘professional’ in speaking a language. First thing, what is a ‘long sentence’ composed of? 

For that, we we need to look at what long sentences are really made up of. As we know, long sentences are simply smaller sentences or sub-parts joined together like modules. Such ‘sub-parts’ are called Phrases or Clauses, depending on the presence of a verb. Phrases lack both a subject and a predicate but clauses don’t. A predicate is the part of a sentence that tells us something about the subject.

Phrases are called वाक्यांश (bakyansa) in Nepali. Clauses is usually not a prominent part of Nepali, maybe because only the end verb is considered as a true verb unless, of course the sentence is a compound sentence. However, clauses will be introduced because certain things in English have ‘clause’ in its name.

A compound sentence is usually a conjunct of two simpler sentences with their own finite verbs. I will be focusing more on phrases now, because it is more important to understand the fundamental structure of a sentence.



The basic sentence looks something like this in Nepali:

Subject + Object + Verb

So, a very simple sentence will look like : John apples ate

= जनले स्याउ खायो /jan le syau khayo/


Let’s see the numerical aspect of apples now. So, let’s say John ate two apples:

जनले दुइटा स्याउ खायो (jan le duita syau khayo

= John ate two apples.

[John + Two + Apples + Ate]


Here, the word ’duita’ is a cardinal number (expresses quantity). When you say Duita Syau, the word ’duita’ works like an adjective. Since it is an adjective, it precedes the object ‘apple’. Here, the adjectival quality shown is quantity. Therefore, when you say that, you mean ’Two Apples’.



Phrases are the easier one to master. Now, there will be three types of Phrases that I will introduce:

Nominal (Noun) Phrases

Phrases that behave like a noun. For example:

उसले ठूलो बर्गर खायो (usle thulo bargar khayo)

He ate a big burger.

Adjectival (Adjective) Phrases

Phrases that behave like an adjective. For example:

त्यो ठूलो रातो स्याउ मीठो छ (tyo thulo rato syau mitho cha)

= That big red apple is tasty.

Adverbial (Adverb) Phrases

Phrases that behave like an adverb. For example:

ऊ जहिले ठूलो स्वरले कराउँछ (u jahile thulo swar`le karaucha)

= He always shouts with a loud voice.

To read more about Phrases, click here. To read more about Clauses, click here.