A clause is a group of related words containing a subject and a verb. A clause is a larger word group than a phrase and includes a little more information.
Types of Clauses
There are two types of clauses.
- Independent Clause (Main/Principal Clause)
- Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause)
Independent Clause (Main/Principal Clause)
Independent clause is the main/principal clause in a sentence. It can stand alone and can be called a sentence. It does not start with subordinate words such as when, which or if.
The main properties of an independent clause are:
- It contains as subject.
- It contains an action.
- It expresses a complete thought.
- Let’s start the play.
(Here ‘play’ is the subject and ‘Let’s start’ is the action.)
- The mobile is defective.
(Here ‘mobile’ is the subject and ‘is defective’ is the action.)
- I will tell her about the paper pattern.
(here ‘I’ is the subject and ‘will tell her about the paper pattern’ is the action.)
Dependent Clause (Subordinate Clause)
A dependent clause is a subordinate clause, it starts with subordinate words. It cannot stand alone as a sentence and is labelled according to its function in the sentence.
Dependent clauses are further divided into three kinds:
- Noun Clause
- Relative Clause
- Adverb Clause
A noun clause is a dependent clause that acts as a noun. Noun clauses begin with words such as how, that, what whatever, when, where, whether, which , whichever, who, whoever, whom, whomever and why. These words generally come before the subject and the verb of the noun clause. Noun clauses can act as subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, predicate nominatives, or objects of a proposition.
- Choose a gift for whomever you want. (Whomever you want is a noun clause and it contains the subject you and the verb want. The clause acts as an object of the preposition for in the sentence)
- On weekends, we can do whatever we want. (Whatever we want is a noun clause and it contains the subject we and the verb want. The clause acts as a direct object in the sentence.)
- I wonder how long we should wait here. (how long we should wait here is a noun clause and it contains the subject we and the verb phrase should wait. The clause acts as a direct object in the sentence.)
Relative clauses are dependent clauses introduced by a relative pronoun (that, which, whichever, who, whoever, whom, whomever, whose and of which). Relative clauses add extra information to a sentence by defining a noun. Relative clauses are also called adjective clauses. The introductory words used for various categories of nouns are:
For people : who, whose or what
For things : which or that
For places : where
For times : when
For possession : whose
- Rohan visited the office where his mother works. (where his mother works is a relative clause. It contains the relative adverb where, the subject mother, and the verb works. The clause modifies the noun office.)
- We’re going to see a band whose lead singer is a friend of ours. (whose lead singer is a friend of ours is a relative clause . It contains the relative pronoun whose, the subject singer, and the verb is. The clause modifies the noun band.)
- The university where my brother goes to school is in Canada. (where my brother goes to school is a relative clause. It contains the relative adverb where, the subject brother, and the verb goes. The clause modifies the noun university.)
An adverb clause (also called adverbial clause) is a word or expression in a sentence that functions as an adverb; it tells you something about how the action in the verb was done. It adds extra information about the time, place, manner, etc to a sentence and modifies the verb. As a dependent clause, it cannot stand on its own and must connect to the main clause or an independent clause with a conjunction to form a complete sentence. The adverbial clause may come before or after the main clause. When it comes before the main clause , a comma is used to separate the two clauses. When it comes after the main clause, no comma is necessary.
- I am sad, although you did a good job of trying to cheer me up. (tells us under what conditions I am sad)
- You must go to bed after we watch the fireworks tonight. (tells us when you must go to bed)
- He shook my hand before he died. (tells us when he shook my hand)
- I will give you chocolate if you clean your plate. (tells us under what conditions the chocolate will be given)
- I have to leave while Raman was playing football. (tells us when the person had to leave)
Types of Adverb Clause
a) Adverb Clause of Time : We use adverb clause of time to modify a verb in the main clause and to tell the time when an action takes place.
Subordinating Conjunctions used are when, whenever, anytime, before, after, till, until, while, since, just as, as soon as, as often as, now that, as long as etc.
- Will you wait here until I am ready?
- I was not at home when he came to see me.
- I always take a bath before I go to bed.
- As soon as Teena finished that project , she started working on the next.
b) Adverb Clause of Condition : We use adverb clause of condition to modify a verb in the main clause and to tell the condition under which an action takes place or someone does soemthing.
Subordinating Conjunctions used are if, even if, whether, if ………. not, unless, supposing that, provided that, in the condition that, as long as that etc.
- If it rains, we shall stay at home.
- She will take this medicine whether she likes it or not.
- You won’t pass unless you work hard.
- As long as you have the time, why don’t you come for dinner?
Uses of Clauses
- By using clauses correctly, you can quickly and easily improve the quality of your writing and your ability to communicate with the reader. With the help of a clause, you can direct the attention of the reader so that your sentence is understood.
- You will also avoid incorrect dependent clauses as sentence fragments.
Clauses at a Glance
|Any clause that functions as a noun.
Ask the question ‘what’ to the main verb and the answer is always the noun clause
|Connectives like who, whose, whom, where, which , what, why, how, that , if and whether
|Nisha told me that she was feeling unwell.
Your success depends on how you prepare yourself.
|Relative Clause/ Adjective Clause
|It describes a noun or pronoun
It adds extra information to a sentence by defining a noun.
|Relative Pronouns like who, whose, whom, that, which , whichever, whoever, of which
|They work in a factory whose owner is cruel.
This is the scarf which I liked.
|It functions as an adverb; it tells you something about how the action in the verb was done.
Adverb Clause of Time : It modifies a verb in the main clause to tell the time when the action takes place.
Adverb Clause of Condition : It modifies a verb in the main clause to tell the condition under which the action takes place or someone does something.
|Subordinating Conjunctions like when, whenever, anytime, before, after, till, until, while, since, just as, as soon as, as often as, now that, as long as
Subordinating Conjunctions like if, whether, as long as, unless, provided supposing, under the condition.
|As soon as he saw his mother, he began to weep.
The world will always be the same as long as men are men.
If it rains, we shall stay at home.
I won’t pay it unless he sends me the bill again.