Resources -> Learn English Grammar -> Independent and Dependent Clauses

Independent and Dependent Clauses

A clause is a grouping of words in English that contains a subject and a verb. Clauses are the building blocks of sentences. They can be of two types: independent and dependent. It is important for the purpose of sentence formation to be able to recognise independent and dependent clauses.

An independent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb. An independent clause is a sentence. Independent clauses are clauses that express a complete thought. They can function as sentences. These are clauses that can function on their own. They do not need to be joined to other clauses, because they contain all the information required to be a complete sentences.

There are three characteristics or components that independent clauses have:

1. A subject- It gives information on what the sentence is about.

2. An action or predicate- It gives information on what the subject is doing..

3. Conveys a complete thought- It gives information on what is happening in the sentence.

For example: 'Ram left to buy supplies 'is an independent clause, and if you end it with a full stop, it becomes a sentence.

A dependent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb. A dependent clause cannot be a sentence. They do not express complete thoughts, and thus cannot function as sentences. They are usually marked by dependant marker words. It is a word that is added to the beginning of an independent clause that makes it into a dependent clause. Dependant clauses are dependant because of the presence of a:

1. Marker Word (because, after, before, since, in order to, although, though, whenever, wherever, whether, while, even though, even if, etc.)

2. Conjunction (but, and, or, nor, yet, etc.)

For example: 'When Ram left to buy supplies 'cannot be a sentence because it is an incomplete thought. What happened when Ram went to the shop? Here, ‘when’ functions as a ‘dependent marker word’; this term refers to words which, when added to the beginnings of independent clauses or sentences, transform them into dependent clauses. Other examples of dependent marker words are after, although, as, as if, because, before, if, in order to, since, though, unless, until, whatever, when, whenever, whether, and while.

Dependent clauses, thus, need to be combined with independent clauses to form full sentences. For example: 'When Ram left to buy supplies, Rohan snuck in and stole the money ' is a complete sentence.