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Clauses: Independent and Dependent Clauses

Updated on November 15, 2023

Building Blocks of Complex Thoughts #

Clauses are the building blocks of sentences in English, each carrying a subject and a verb to express a complete or incomplete thought. Languagehood’s guide to clauses is a deep dive into understanding how independent and dependent clauses form the backbone of nuanced and complex sentence structures.

What Are Clauses? #

A clause is a group of words containing a subject and a predicate. They can be independent, expressing a complete thought and able to stand alone as a sentence, or dependent, unable to stand alone and needing an independent clause to complete their meaning.

Independent Clauses #

Independent Clauses are complete sentences in their own right. They can stand alone and make sense without any additional information.

Example: “The sun sets.”

Dependent Clauses #

Dependent Clauses, also known as subordinate clauses, cannot stand alone as a sentence because they do not express a complete thought. They often begin with subordinating conjunctions like ‘because,’ ‘since,’ ‘which,’ or ‘although.’

Example: “Although the sun sets.”

The Role of Clauses in Sentence Structure #

Understanding how to use these clauses effectively is essential for writing clearly and effectively:

  • Combining Clauses: You can combine independent and dependent clauses to form complex sentences that reflect detailed and layered thoughts.Example: “Although the sun sets, the sky remains aglow with colors.”
  • Punctuation and Clauses: When an independent clause precedes a dependent clause, no comma is usually necessary. However, when a dependent clause precedes an independent one, it should be followed by a comma.Example: “The sky remains aglow with colors, although the sun sets.”

Crafting Sentences with Clauses #

Using clauses effectively allows you to control the rhythm and focus of your sentences:

  • Emphasis: Beginning a sentence with a dependent clause can emphasize the information in the independent clause that follows.Example: “Because she practiced daily, her skills improved significantly.”
  • Variety: Mixing independent and dependent clauses within your writing adds variety to your sentence structures and keeps the reader engaged.

Common Mistakes to Avoid #

  • Avoid comma splices, where two independent clauses are incorrectly joined by a comma without a coordinating conjunction.Incorrect: “She runs every day, she is very healthy.”Correct: “She runs every day, and she is very healthy.”
  • Be cautious of sentence fragments where dependent clauses are mistakenly punctuated as complete sentences.Incorrect: “Because she enjoys running.”Correct: “She enjoys running.”

Examples for Practice #

  • Independent Clause: “She smiled.”
  • Dependent Clause: “When she heard the good news,”
  • Combined: “When she heard the good news, she smiled.”

Clauses are the essence of sentence construction, and mastering their use is key to expressing yourself eloquently and effectively. Languagehood presents this guide as a tool to aid learners in understanding the intricacy of clauses, empowering them to write with clarity and confidence. By exploring independent and dependent clauses, you can craft sentences that are not only correct but also compelling and rich with meaning.

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