What is a Clause?



An independent clause contains a subject and a verb and is incomplete. An independent clause can stand by itself. It can be a sentence, for example, “I am running.” Here, we have a subject and we have this verb phrase “am running”. It’s a complete thought; it can stand alone be a sentence. Sometimes, independent clauses have other clauses grouped with them, but they can also stand alone.

A dependent clause also contains a subject and verb, however, it is an incomplete thought. We can take this independent clause up here and just add the word “because” to it. It then becomes a dependent clause. “Because I am running” still has a subject and a verb, but now we have the word “because”. It’s a dependent clause; it’s not a complete thought. You can’t just say, “Because I’m running.” You need something to go with it. “Because I’m running, I can’t come to the meeting.” That would be a complete sentence. That’s what independent clause is.

A noun clause can be a subject, a direct object, which I will abbreviate as DO, an indirect object, abbreviated IO, or an object of a preposition. A noun clause can begin with “wh- question” words, such as “what”, “which”, “when”, “where”, “who”, or “whom”, and question words like “how” or “if”. An adjective clause modifies a noun or pronoun. An adjective clause begins with a word like “who”, “whom”, “which”, “that”, “whose”, “when”, “where”, and “why.” It’s going to follow the word it modifies.

Finally, we have an adverb clause, which modifies a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or an object of a preposition. An adverb clause begins with a subordinating conjunction, such as “after”, “because”, “since”, “unless”, etc. An adverb clause answers the questions “when”, “where”, “why”, “how”, “to what degree”, or “under what condition.” That’s a look at some different types of clauses.

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Last updated: 06/11/2018
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