Clauses

A clause is a group of words that has a subject and a predicate. In this lesson, we will discuss clauses in English grammar.

"Clauses" in the English Grammar

What Are Clauses?

A clause is a group of words that includes a subject and a predicate. The subject is typically a noun or a pronoun that performs the action or is described by the predicate, which consists of a verb and any accompanying objects, modifiers, or complements.

Clause vs. Sentence

A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought and has a complete grammatical structure. A clause, on the other hand, is a group of words that contains at least a subject and a verb. When a clause has a complete meaning and can stand alone, it functions as a sentence. Look at the examples below:

When he walked into the room

This is a clause that does not have a complete meaning.

His mother waved at him.

This is a clause that has a complete meaning, so it is a sentence.

When he walked into the room, his mother waved at him.

This is a sentence that has two clauses.

Tip

Even though we typically expect a clause to contain a subject and a verb, there are cases when a clause may not require one or both of these components. Look at the sentences below:

Stop making noise!

In this clause, the subject is not mentioned, but it is clear that the subject is 'you.'

Ready now? It's time to go!

In the first clause, the subject and the verb are not mentioned, but it is clear that the complete sentence is 'Are you ready now?'

Although disappointed, I will continue to fight for my dreams.

In the first clause, the verb and the subject are not mentioned. The complete sentence is 'Although I am disappointed, I will continue to fight for my dreams.'

Clause vs. Phrase

A clause contains a subject and a verb and can function as a complete sentence or as part of a larger sentence. A Phrase, on the other hand, does not contain a subject and a verb and cannot function as a complete sentence. Phrases function as modifiers, serving to provide additional information about a noun, verb, or another part of speech in a sentence. Look at the sentences below:

the house on the corner

Example of a phrase

The house on the corner is mine.

Example of a clause

Types of Clauses Based on Their Dependency

We can categorize clauses into two groups based on whether they have a complete meaning:

Independent Clauses

An independent clause is a clause that can function as a complete sentence on its own. It contains a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought or idea. Because it can stand alone as a sentence, an independent clause is sometimes referred to as a main clause. Independent clauses are always finite; meaning they must have a verb that shows tense. Look at the examples:

We couldn't play outside because it was raining.

Although I try to be nice to her, she doesn't seem to like me.

If you need some help, give me a call.

Coordination of Independent Clauses

Independent clauses can be combined with other independent clauses or dependent clauses to form more complex sentences. When two or more independent clauses are combined, they are typically joined with a coordinating conjunction, such as 'and', 'but', or 'or'. Look at the examples:

She made some lasagna and put it in the fridge.

Hurry up or you'll miss the train.

Dependent Clauses

A dependent clause is a clause that contains a subject and a verb but cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. It depends on an independent clause to make sense and convey a complete thought. Look at the examples:

We couldn't play outside because it was raining.

Although I try to be nice to her, she doesn't seem to like me.

If you need some help, give me a call.

Types of Dependent Clauses Based on Structure

Based on the structure of dependent clauses, they can be categorized into three groups:

Subordinate Clauses

Subordinate clauses are clauses that contain a subordinating conjunction at the beginning. Look at the examples:

Because it was raining, we couldn't go to the park.

If you want, I will send you an email about the subject.

Relative Clauses

A relative clause is a dependent clause that begins with a relative pronoun, such as which, that, whom, whose, when, where, and who. Look at the examples:

The dog that stole my shoes returned to my place.

Carl, who is the sales manager of our company, got promoted this month.

using a relative clause in a sentence

Non-finite Clauses

Non-finite clauses are a type of dependent clause in which the verb does not show tense or time. The verb in non-finite clauses can be:

Look at the examples:

Finding nothing in the fridge, he ordered a pizza.

a participle

She left the house to go shopping.

an infinitive

Types of participles

There are two kinds of participles:

Having lived through hard times, they were inseparable.

past participle

I talked on the phone walking back from work.

present participle

Types of Infinitives

There are two kinds of infinitives:

My family sent me a postcard to wish me a happy new year.

To-infinitive

She made me cry.

Bare infinitive

Types of Dependent Clauses Based on Their Part of Speech

Based on their parts of speech, dependent clauses can be categorized into three types:

Noun Clauses

Noun clauses are dependent clauses that function as nouns and can serve various grammatical purposes in a sentence, such as subject, object, complement, object of a preposition, or an adjective complement. They often begin with words such as how, that, what, when, where, which, clauses with the present participle, and why. Noun clauses can take the form of nominal relatives, infinitive clauses, clauses with the present participle, depending on their structure and function within the sentence.

Seeing him that day changed my life.

present participle - subject

I want her to love me.

infinitive clause - object

The doctor's solution was that the patient rest more.

nominal relative - subject complement

The article is about talking in front of a large group of people.

present participle - object of a preposition

My mother is worried that I don't get good marks.

nominal relative - adjective complement

Adjective Clauses

Adjective clauses are dependent clauses that function as adjectives and add to the meaning of nouns and pronouns. Adjective clauses usually begin with pronouns such as who, whose, that, or which. For example:

Love that is pure will last forever.

relative clause

Yoga, which many people do, is good for you.

relative clause

The girl, dancing in the red dress, is my cousin.

participle clause – present participle

The man, worried by the news, ran out of the room.

participle clause – past participle

Adverb Clauses

Adverb (also called adverbial) clauses are dependent clauses that function as adverbs. They add to the meaning of verbs, other adverbs, or adjectives.
Adverb clauses talk about when, where, why, how, how much, or under what circumstances the action of the sentence takes place. Look at the sentences:

When tomorrow comes, your dream will come true.

My sister, although she is a teacher, doesn't like children.

After you are done with your homework, we can watch a movie.

I should go on a diet in order to lose weight.

Review

A clause is a group of words that must contain a subject and a predicate. Every complete sentence has at least one clause.

Types of Clauses based on their Dependency

  • Independent Clauses = They have complete meaning and can form sentences on their own.
  • Dependent Clauses = They cannot form sentences on their own.

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Adjective Phrases

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Adverbial Phrases

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Infinitive Phrases

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Infinitive phrases are phrases that look like infinitives but they are used in special positions.

Relative Clauses

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Relative clauses give us more information about people and things. They are used to combine clauses and avoid repetition. Click here to learn!

Nominal Relative Clauses

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Dependent Clauses

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Dependent clauses are clauses that cannot form sentences on their own. In this lesson, we will learn all about dependent clauses.
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