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TYPES OF CLAUSES

TYPES OF CLAUSES

A clause is a group of words containing both a subject and a verb. There are two major types of clauses: Main Clause or Independent Clause, and Subordinate or dependent clause. It can be a simple sentence or a part of a compound sentence; e.g.

a) She laughed. (one clause)
b) I waited for him, but he didn’t come. (two clauses)

Clauses have two major types:

a) Independent Clause (Main Clause)
b) Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause)

See this example to understand it well:

I saw a man who was crying.

(The part of the above sentence I SAW A MAN can alone stand as an independent sentence because it gives complete meaning. Such a clause is called Main Clause or Independent Clause.

On the other hand, the remaining part of the above sentence WHO WAS CRYING cannot stand as an independent sentence. It cannot give complete meaning because it depends on the main clause to become a complete sentence and give a complete idea. Such a clause is called Subordinate Clause or Dependent Clause.)

1. Main Clause (Independent Clause)

Independent clause or Main clause is that clause which expresses a complete meaning. Two or more Independent Clauses can be joined by using coordinating conjunctions (AND, BUT, FOR, NOR, OR, SO, AND YET) or by using SEMICOLONS. The most important thing to remember is that an independent clause can stand alone as a complete sentence; e.g.

a) Sangeeta brushed her long, black hair.

[In this example, the independent clause is a simple sentence.]

b) Mohit left, and Sangeeta brushed her long, black hair.

[In this example, the coordinating conjunction AND joins two independent clauses MOHIT LEFT and SANGEETA BRUSHED HER LONG, BLACK HAIR.]

NOTE: All sentences must include at least one Independent Clause; e.g.

a) After she told Mohit to leave, Sangeeta brushed her long, black hair.

[In this example SANGEETA BRUSHED HER LONG, BLACK HAIR is an Independent Clause. But the clause AFTER SHE TOLD MOHIT TO LEAVE cannot stand alone, hence it’s not an Independent Clause.]

b) Sangeeta brushed her long, black hair while she waited for Mohit to leave.

[In this example SANGEETA BRUSHED HER LONG, BLACK HAIR is an Independent Clause. But the clause WHILE SHE WAITED FOR MOHIT TO LEAVE cannot stand alone, hence it’s not an Independent Clause.]

2. Subordinate Clause (Dependent Clause)

Subordinate clause or Dependent clause is that clause which as alone cannot express a complete meaning. It alone cannot stand as a sentence because it depends on the other clause (Main Clause/Independent Clause) to give a complete meaning. It serves a subordinate role in the sentence. A subordinate clause can act as an adjective, a noun or an adverb in a sentence.

To understand both these types of clauses well read these examples:

a) I saw a man who was crying.

[The above sentence has two clauses: I SAW A MAN and WHO WAS CRYING. The first clause ‘I saw a man’ gives a complete meaning and can alone stand as a complete sentence. Such a clause is called Independent Clause (Main Clause). On the other hand, the second clause ‘who was crying’ does not give a complete meaning and cannot stand as a complete sentence. It depends on the main clause to give a complete meaning. Such a clause is called Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause).]

b) I met a friend who helped me a lot.

[I MET A FRIEND is Independent Clause (Main Clause). WHO HELPED ME A LOT is Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause).]

c) He does not like the people who smoke.

[HE DOES NOT LIKE THE PEOPLE is Independent Clause (Main Clause. WHO SMOKE is Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause).]

Types of Dependent Clauses (Subordinate Clauses)

A dependent Clause (subordinate clause) can act as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb in a sentence. There are three types of such clauses depending upon its function in a sentence:

  1. Noun Clause
  2. Adverb Clause
  3. Adjective Clause

NOUN CLAUSE

A dependent clause (subordinate clause) which acts as a noun in a sentence is called a Noun Clause. It usually starts with words such as THAT, WHAT, WHATEVER, WHO, WHOM, WHOEVER, WHOMEVER. It acts exactly like a noun in a sentence. It can work as a noun either at the place of a subject or an object; e.g.

a) Whatever we study increases our knowledge.

[In this sentence WHATEVER WE STUDY cannot stand alone as a sentence, hence it’s a Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause). Also it’s the subject of the verb INCRESES, hence it’s a Noun Clause.]

b) What you eat determines your body-size.

[Like above WHAT YOU EAT is a Noun Clause working as the subject of the verb DETERMINES.]

c) I buy whatever I need.

[In this sentence WHATEVER I NEED cannot stand alone as a sentence, hence it’s a Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause). Also it’s the object of the verb BUY, hence it’s a Noun Clause.]

d) Now I realized what you had thought.

[Like above WHAT YOU HAD THOUGHT is a Noun Clause working as the object of the verb REALIZED.]

ADJECTIVE CLAUSE

A Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause) which acts as an adjective in a sentence is called an Adjective Clause. Like an adjective, it describes a noun or pronoun in the sentence. An adjective clause mostly starts with relative pronouns such as THAT, WHO, WHOM, WHOSE, WHICH, or WHOSE; e.g.

a) I saw a child who was crying.

[In this sentence WHO WAS CRYING  cannot stand alone as a sentence, hence it’s a Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause). Here it’s describing the noun CHILD, hence it’s an Adjective Clause.]

b) He hates the people who waste time.

[Like above WHO WASTE TIME is an Adjective Clause describing the noun PEOPLE.]

c) I watch a movie which amused me a lot.

[Like above WHICH AMUSED ME A LOT is an Adjective Clause describing the noun MOVIE.]

d) The car which I like consumes less fuel.

[Like above WHICH I LIKE is an Adjective Clause describing the noun CAR.]

e) The building where he lives consists of many apartments.

[Like above WHERE HE LIVES is an Adjective Clause describing the noun BUILDING.]

ADVERB CLAUSE

A Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause) which acts as an adverb in a sentence is called an Adverb Clause. Like an adverb, it describes a verb, an adjective-clause or another adverb clause in the sentence. It describes a verb (action) of the main clause in terms of time, frequency (i.e. how often), condition, cause and effect; and intensity (i.e. extent). It mostly uses the following subordinating conjunctions:

Time: When, Whenever, Since, Until, Before, After, While, As, By the time, As soon as
Cause and effect: Because, Since, Now that, As long as, So, So that
Contrast: Although, Even, Whereas, While, Though
Condition: If, Unless, Only if, Whether or not, Even if, Providing Or Provided that, In case

EXAMPLES:

a) Call me when you need my help.

[In this sentence WHEN YOU NEED MY HELP cannot stand alone as a sentence, hence it’s a Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause). Here it’s describing the verb CALL, hence it’s an Adverb Clause.]

b) Unless you avoid sugar, you can’t lose weight.

[In this sentence UNLESS YOU AVOID SUGAR cannot stand alone as a sentence, hence it’s a Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause). Here it’s describing the verb phrase CAN’T LOSE WEIGHT, hence it’s an Adverb Clause.]

c) The patient had died before the doctor reached.

[In this sentence BEFORE THE DOCTOR ARRIVED cannot stand alone as a sentence, hence it’s a Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause). Here it’s describing the verb HAD DIED, hence it’s an Adverb Clause.]

d) You live a happy life as long as you think positively.

[In this sentence AS LONG AS YOU THINK POSITIVELY cannot stand alone as a sentence, hence it’s a Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause). Here it’s describing the verb phrase LIVE A HAPPY LIFE, hence it’s an Adverb Clause.]

e) I worked in a factory while I was living in London.

[In this sentence WHILE I WAS LIVING IN LONDON cannot stand alone as a sentence, hence it’s a Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause). Here it’s describing the verb phrase WORKED IN A FACTORY; hence it’s an Adverb Clause.]

f) You can succeed in life provided that you are sincere to your work.

[In this sentence PROVIDED THAT YOU ARE SINCERE TO YOUR WORK cannot stand alone as a sentence, hence it’s a Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause). Here it’s describing the verb phrase CAN SUCCEED IN LIFE; hence it’s an Adverb Clause.]

 

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Maha Gupta

Maha Gupta

Founder of www.examscomp.com and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC. Also the author of the following books:

1. Maha English Grammar (for Competitive Exams)
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