Clauses- Definition, types and examples

A clause is a group of words containing a subject and verb. An independent clause is a simple sentence. It can stand on its own. A clause may be either independent clause a simple sentence that can stand on its own or a dependent clause that cannot stand on its own and need an independent clause to complete a sentence.

Independent clause– An independent clause is a complete sentence contains a subject and verb that can expresses a complete thought in both context and meaning. For example-

  1. I am not feeling well today
  2. I am not able to go to school etc.

Dependent clause- A dependent clause is part of a sentence contains a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought. It needs an independent clause to complete its meaning. Dependent clauses often begin with a subordinating conjunction or relative pronoun that makes the clause unable to stand alone. They are usually joined to an independent clause to form a complex sentence with coordinating conjunction.
Dependent clauses include adverb clauses, adjective clauses, and noun clauses and also known as a subordinate clause. For example- The door opened and the man walked in.

Types of Clauses

Adjective clause, examples

An adjective clause is a subordinate clause used to modify a noun or a pronoun in the main clause. It may be introduced by the pronouns who, whose, whom, which, or that (and sometimes when or where). These pronouns are called relative pronouns because they relate to a noun or a pronoun in the sentence.

Adjective clause begins with a relative pronoun (who, whom, whose, that, or which) or a relative adverb (when, where, or why). It will have a subject and a verb and tell us something about the noun.

  1. The book that he wrote has just been published.
  2. There is the house that I’d like to buy.
  3. The carpets which you bought last year have gone mouldy.

Adjective (relative) clauses can be restrictive clause or non-restrictive clause. A restrictive clause limits the meaning of preceding noun or pronoun. A non-restrictive clause tells us something about preceding noun or pronoun but does not limit the meaning of preceding noun or pronoun. For example

  • The student in the class who studied a lot passed the test. (Restrictive clause)
  • The student in the class, who had attended all the lectures, passed the test. (Non-restrictive clause)

Adverbial Clause or Adverb clause, examples

An adverbial clause (or an adverb clause) is a group of words which plays the role of an adverb within a sentence to indicate time, place, condition, contrast, concession, reason, purpose, or result. It begins with a subordinating conjunction (such as if, when, because, or although) and usually includes a subject and a predicate.

  1. Unless you study for the test, you can’t pass it.
  2. I will go to the school unless it rains.
  3. You are safe as long as you drive carefully.

The subordinating conjunctions used for adverb clauses are as follows.

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

You can remove the adverbial clause without the sentence being grammatically wrong. An adverbial clause is a dependent clause that cannot stand alone as meaningful sentence in its own right.

Comparative clause, examples

A type of subordinate clause that follows the comparative form of an adjective or adverb and begins with as, than, or like are known as Comparative clause. A comparative clause expresses a comparison in which the second part of a comparison (underlined) is often a clause.

A comparative clause may contain ellipsis (the omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues) in which the verb has been omitted by ellipsis is called a comparative phrase.

  1. The price was higher than we had expected.
  2. Tom is taller than me.
  3. “No other president ever enjoyed the presidency as I did.”- Theodore Roosevelt

When comparisons of degree are made between similar or the same things, then the comparative clause structure will be as follows-

  1. Property in Mumbai isn’t as expensive as in Delhi. (as + adjective/adverb + as phrase or clause)

Conditional clause, examples

A type of adverbial clause that states a hypothesis or condition, real or imagined is known as Conditional clause. A conditional clause may be start with subordinating conjunction if or another conjunction, such as unless, provided that, or in case of. It can come either before or after the clause on which it states a condition.

  1. If you start thinking about this game, it will drive you crazy.
  2. You should not understand my condition unless you feel the same.

Noun clause, examples

A dependent clause that functions as a noun in a sentence is called noun clause, it performs same function like a noun do in a sentence. Noun clause works as a noun that acts as a subject, object, or predicate in a sentence starts with words “that, what, whatever, who, whom, whoever, whomever”.

  1. He told me that he had shot someone.
  2. They know where I often fly my kites.
  3. The police were investigating who the serial killer was.

Relative clause, examples

A relative clause is always a dependent clause that tells us something extra about the noun that it describes. It begins with a relative pronoun that, which, who, whom, whose and functions as an adjective.

  1. The novel that won the Pulitzer Prize didn’t sell well when it was first published.
  2. Yesterday was a day when everything went wrong!
  3. I want to live in a place where there is lots to do.

They are usually divided into two types – defining relative clauses and non-defining relative clauses.

A defining relative clause tells which noun we are talking about: I like the woman who lives next door.

A non-defining relative clause gives us extra information about something. We don’t need this information to understand the sentence: I live in London, which has some fantastic parks.

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