What Are Clauses?
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.
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:
In this clause, the subject is not mentioned, but it is clear that the subject is 'you.'
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?'
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
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:
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:
Although I try to be nice to her,
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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
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
Types of Dependent Clauses Based on Structure
Based on the structure of dependent clauses, they can be categorized into three groups:
Subordinate clauses are clauses that contain a subordinating conjunction at the beginning. Look at the examples:
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:
She left the house
Types of participles
Types of Infinitives
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 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.
present participle - subject
I want her
infinitive clause - object
The doctor's solution was
nominal relative - subject complement
The article is about
present participle - object of a preposition
My mother is worried
nominal relative - adjective complement
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:
participle clause – present participle
participle clause – past participle
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:
I should go on a diet
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.
- What Are Clauses?
- Clause vs. Sentence
- Clause vs. Phrase
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Phrases are two or more words that can function as specific parts of speech. Adjective phrases are groups of words that function as adjectives.
Adverbial phrases are made of two or more words and are used as the adverb of the sentence. In this lesson, you will get to know phrasal verbs.
Infinitive phrases are phrases that look like infinitives but they are used in special positions.
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
Nominal relative clauses are used as different parts of speeches and act as a noun or a noun phrase. Click here to learn more!