Independent Clauses

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

Independent Clauses in English Grammar

What Are Independent Clauses?

Independent clauses are groups of words that contain a subject and a verbs and express a complete thought. They are also known as main clauses because they can stand alone as a sentence and do not require any additional information to be grammatically correct. Independent clauses can be simple sentences consisting of just one subject and one verb, or they can be complex sentences with multiple subjects, verbs, and phrases.

Independent Clauses: Types

Independent clauses can form different types of sentences. Check them on the list:

Simple Sentences

Simple sentences are made up of only one independent clause. Here is an example:

I am a doctor.

Compound Sentences

Compound sentences are made up of two independent clauses joined together with a coordinating conjunction. Here is an example:

I am a doctor, but I am not happy about it.

Complex Sentences

Complex sentences are made up of an independent clause followed by at least one dependent clause. They are joined by a subordinating conjunction. Here is an example:

I will call you when I get home.

Compound-Complex Sentences

Complex-compound sentences are made up of at least two independent clauses and one dependent clause. Here is an example:

Hanna cried when her friend got sick, but he got better soon.

Sentences Vs. Independent Clauses

Each independent clause is considered a sentence, but not all sentences are independent clauses. An independent clause is made of a subject and verb but a sentence can be made up of more than one clause. Pay attention to the examples:

This is not the problem.

An independent clause which is a sentence on its own.

Those animals were safe when they were put in the zoo.

A sentence with a dependent and independent clause

Independent Clauses: Formation

Independent clauses start with a subject followed by a predicate. The subject can be a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun. A predicate consists of a verb and states something about the subject. Check out the examples:

She made a cup of coffee.

In this example, 'she' is the subject and 'made a cup of coffee' is the predicate.

Sam stayed at home yesterday.

using an independent clause in a sentence

How to Connect Two Independent Clauses?

There are different ways for connecting two independent clauses, inlcuding:

  • using coordinating conjunctions
  • using semicolon
  • using a comma and a semicolon with conjunctive adverbs

Using Coordinating Conjunctions

There are seven coordinating conjunctions that are used to connect two independent clauses. Check them out on the list:

  1. and
  2. but
  3. for
  4. or
  5. nor
  6. yet
  7. so

When we use a coordinating conjunction to connect two independent clauses, we have to use a comma before it. Consider the examples:

I was waiting for her, but she never showed up.

You have made up your mind, so I guess we are done.

Warning

Remember, coordinating conjunctions can sometimes be subordinating conjunctions. Among these seven coordinating conjunctions 'so' is used as both coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. For example:

She was angry, so I gave her a present. → coordinating conjunction

I am studying really hard so I can enter university. → subordinating conjunction

Using Semicolons

Semicolons (;) are used to separate two independent clauses. When using semicolons, there is no need to use a coordinating conjunction. Here are the examples:

I was not ready to go abroad; I decided to go anyway.

I found her; she was playing with the kids in the garden.

Using a Comma and a Semicolon with Conjunctive Adverbs

You can use a semicolon before a conjunctive adverb and a comma after it (semicolon (;) + conjunctive adverb + comma (,)) to link two independent clauses to each other. Here are the most common conjunctive adverbs:

  • accordingly, consequently, therefore, thus
  • however, nevertheless, otherwise, still
  • then, besides, furthermore, moreover

Check out the examples for more clarification:

I was tired; therefore, I decided to go home early.

I called John; however, he seems to be really angry with me.

What Is a Comma Splice?

A comma splice is when you link two independent clauses to each other using only a comma which is grammatically incorrect. To avoid this problem add a coordinating conjunction after the comma. Check out the examples:

✗She was cute, she behaved nicely.

✓She was cute, and she behaved nicely.

Review

Independent clauses can stand alone as a meaningful sentence. Here are the parts of an independent clause:

  1. subject
  2. predicate

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