Writers Workshop: Writer Resources
Grammar Handbook: Independent and Dependent Clauses
A clause is a group of words that includes a subject and a predicate. There are two types of clauses: independent and dependent. An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence, while a dependent clause must be accompanied by an independent clause.
Two independent clauses can be connected by:
- A coordinating conjunction: Today is Tuesday and our papers are due Wednesday.
- A conjunctive adverb or another transitional expression: I need to study for my test; in fact I am going to the library now. (In this case, use a semicolon to separate the two clauses.)
- Correlative conjunction: George not only finished his paper on time, but he also got an A+.
- Semicolon: This is one of my English classes; Shakespeare is my other.
- Colon (sometimes):
She received the assignment: it is to be turned in next Friday.
Dependent clauses can be either adjective, adverb, or noun clauses based on how they are used in a sentence.
Adjective (or relative) clauses modify nouns or pronouns and, in order to make the relationship clear, follow the noun or pronoun they modify.
- Our class, which meets at nine in the morning, discusses the importance and use of grammar in our schools. (An adjective clause modifies the noun "class".)
Adverb clauses modify single words (verbs, adjectives, or adverbs) or entire phrases or clauses. They always begin with a subordinating conjunction. Adverb clauses answer the questions how? where? when? why? and to what extent? Adverb clauses appear in any of several places in the sentence as long as the relationship is clear and its position conveys the intended purpose.
- Confused, after class was over, Susan decided to meet with her group to discuss the paper. (An adverb clause modifies the participle "confused.")
Noun clauses act as nouns in sentences (subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, or complements). They may begin with a relative pronoun or "by," "whether," "when," "where," "why," or "how."
- Whoever wins the race will receive the trophy. (A noun clause serves as the subject of the sentence.)
- This grade is what I deserve. (A noun clause serves as the subject complement.)