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What is a clause?
Clauses are the essential building blocks of sentences. A clause is a group of related words that have (at least) a subject and a verb.
It is crucial to distinguish clauses from phrases. The later is also a group of words, but does not contain a subject-verb relation.
a. We work in the morning. → a clause
b. In the morning → a phrase
Two types of clauses
Clauses can be categorized into Independent and Dependent Clauses.
1. Independent Clauses
An independent clause is a group of words that can stand on its own as a separate sentence: it has a subject, a verb, and is a complete thought.
→ This is an independent clause: Mary is the subject. Sleeps is the action or verb. A complete thought was expressed - something was said.
2. Dependent Clauses
A dependent clause is a group of words that also contains a subject and a verb, but does NOT express a complete thought. Since it is not a complete thought, a dependent clause cannot stand on its own as a sentence.
A dependent clause starts with words called subordinating conjunctions or subordinators. Some common subordinating conjunctions/ subordinators are: That, although, even though, though, because, since, if, rather than, unless, until, once, when, whenever, whereas, while, after, before, as...
a. When Mary gets here,…
b. If Peter comes to the meeting late,…
c. …which I bought last night.
→ These are dependent clauses because they do not express complete thoughts. To make a complete sentence, a dependent clause needs to be attached to an independent clause as follows:
a. When Mary gets here, we will go to the nearby café.
b. If Peter comes to the meeting late, we will have to cancel it.
c. This is the red skirt which I bought last night.
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