Dependent Clauses for intermediate learners

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

What Are Dependent Clauses in English?

What Are Dependent Clauses?

In English, we have two types of clauses. A dependent clause (also called a subordinate clause) is one that needs an independent one to be meaningful and complete. In this lesson, we are going to learn all about it.

Types of Dependent Clauses

We have two types of dependent clauses in the English language. Below is a list of them. Look:

Now, let us analyze each:

Finite Clauses

Finite clauses are those that have a tense and person. They have a subject and can stand on their own, independently. Look at the following examples:

The boys are walking to school.

As you can see, the sentence is complete.

I am baking a cake.

We have different types of finite clauses. However, we are going to learn about one of them which is:

  • Subordinating Clauses

Subordinating Clauses

As their name suggests, subordinating clauses rely on an independent clause to be meaningful and complete and without it, they are meaningless. Subordinate clauses begin with subordinating conjunctions. Below is a list of them:

Now, let us examine some examples:

Wherever you go, there is always a problem.

As you can see, the first clause is dependent and without the second one is incomplete.

This is going to be ours, until we are able to afford a better one.

Even though Chris was sad, he agreed to join us in the club.

Non-finite Clauses

Non-finite clauses are the exact opposite of finite clauses. They do not have a tense and they need an independent clause to be complete. We have two types of non-finite clauses. Look at the list below:

Now, let us analyze each:


As you know, we can form infinitives by adding 'to' to the base form of the main verb. These infinitives do not have a meaning on their own and need an independent clause in order to be complete. Look at the following examples for more clarification:

They didn't know how to use their cards.

As you can see, the infinitive is incomplete on its own.

To eat fast food everyday doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

Participle Clauses

As you know, we have different types of participles that are past and present. These participles are non-finite clauses and they need to be followed by an independent clause to be complete. Look at the following examples:

living in this neighborhood has helped me a lot. (Present Participle)

I saw a duck sleeping on the bench. (Present Participle)

Torn into a thousand pieces, she sat there and cried. (Past Participle)

Johnny, scared and confused, hid behind his mother. (Past Participle)

Position in a Sentence

So long as they are followed by an independent clause, dependent clauses can come at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the sentences. Look below:

To talk to me like that requires courage.

As you can see, the sentence has begun with an infinitive.

Rita called to say what had happened.

My boyfriend, sitting on the blue couch, is staring at me.

Punctuation Rules

Whenever we have the dependent clause at the beginning of the clause, we must put a comma after it. Also, when the dependent clause is in the middle, it must be between two commas. Look:

The dark girl, talking to that stranger, is my friend.

As you can see, the dependent clause is between two commas.

Confused and lost in thoughts, mom left the house.

Here, we have a comma after the dependent clause.


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Relative Clauses

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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!

Independent Clauses

Independent clauses can stay alone and they are used as a whole meaningful sentence. In this lesson, we will learn about them.

Restrictive and Non-restrictive Clauses

Restrictive clauses and phrases are necessary while non-restrictive clauses are not necessary for the sentence to have a meaningful thought.

Participle Clauses

To get to know participle clauses, first of all, you have to be familiar with the concept of participles and clauses separately.

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