Natalie adopted a cat that refused to meow.

I came across this example for a noun phrase but I don't understand how this can be a phrase when it has a subject and verb which perfectly agree with each other. Now I am also confused with the difference between phrase and clause. Please help me.

2 Answers 2


The noun phrase in the sentence is: 'a cat that refused to meow'. The various parts of the noun phrase are: an article ('a'); the noun itself ('cat'); and finally a descriptive clause ('that refused to meow').

  • Is it necessary for the subject and verb to agree with each other to form a clause? In the above a cat that refused to meow ;it has noun and verb. Dec 14, 2014 at 10:11
  • There is already a subject (Natalie) and verb (adopted) in the larger sentence. The 'verb' 'refused' is not being used as a proper verb here in terms of the action happening immediately - it is used to describe the character of the cat, the descriptive clause functions in this way as an adjective. A slightly less interesting alternative sentence meaning much the same thing would be "Natalie adopted a silent cat". Dec 14, 2014 at 10:15
  • Is there any way to identify what kind of phrase is it if a sentence is given? Any rules or tricks? Dec 14, 2014 at 10:17
  • There are lots of different kinds - too many to talk about in a short answer or comment like this. Try: looking at a few sites here: google.com.au/… starting with the wikipedia article on noun phrases if you haven't already read it. Dec 14, 2014 at 10:22
  • A phrase is a group of words that belong (make sense) together: a cat/refused to meow. A clause is a complete thought but not always a complete sentence: that refused to meow. A sentence is a clause with a matching subject and predicate (Natalie adopted a cat), and it may have additional clauses as well. Check out this info on independent and dependent clauses: owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/598/01
    – miltonaut
    Dec 14, 2014 at 14:03

A noun phrase is a group of words with a noun as main element with other words added to it as "subelements" such as article, adjective, relative clause.

A clause is a sentence that is embedded into a sentence. Clauses contain subject and verbal part but they are not independent sentences.

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