Resource: Clause

Words, phrases, and clauses are key to learning sentences. Here you’ll find resources on clause. (Note: The page will be updated as more resources on clause are added to the site.)

Clause: Dependent and Independent

Clause is a grammatical group of words that contains both subject and (finite) verb:

Some confuse between phrase and clause. This should help:

A clause can be dependent, which can’t stand on its own as a sentence as it represents an incomplete idea. Or A clause can be independent, which can stand on its own as a sentence as it represents a complete idea.

Some grammar books classify dependent clauses into finite (those containing finite verb) and non-finite (those containing non-finite verb). There are other books though which treat non-finite clause as just a phrase.

Some grammar books treat a dependent clause to be an embed in a sentence, calling it an embedded clause.

And some grammar books call an independent clause to be a coordinate clause when two or more of them are joined by a coordinating conjunction such as and, but, etc. in a sentence.

Dependent clause: Noun, Relative, and Adverb

Dependent clauses are of three types: noun, relative (or adjective), and adverb.

Noun clause

A noun clause is a dependent clause that functions as noun in a sentence.

Some grammar books replace noun clause with complement clause. A complement clause is essentially same as a noun clause; it’s just the lens through which the clause is viewed changes. Instead of viewing the clause as noun in a sentence, it is viewed as complement (or completer of meaning) of noun, preposition, adjective, and verb.

Take a deeper dive into a particular noun clause, the one starting with the marker word what.

Relative clause

A relative clause is a dependent clause that describes a noun or pronoun, implying it functions like an adjective.

A relative clause can be restrictive or non-restrictive.

A dependent clause – whether noun, relative, or adverb – starts with a marker word. The marker words starting a relative clause, also called relative pronoun and relative adverb, get special attention among the marker words.

There are five relative pronouns: who, whom, whose, that, and which. Of these, people confuse between who and whom, and which and that. These two posts should help to lay the confusion to rest.

Of the five relative pronouns, which is probably the most used. Take a deeper dive into relative clause starting with which.

Adverb clause

An adverb clause is a dependent clause that functions as an adverb in a sentence, implying it answers adverbial questions such as when, where, why, and in what manner.

Finally, take a deep dive into one of the marker words, that. That starts all three dependent clauses and is arguably the most-used marker word.

Identifying clauses and other things

Learn how to identify dependent and independent clauses in a sentence.

Once you’ve identified a dependent clause, the next step is to identify whether the dependent clause is noun, relative, or adverb.

Sometimes, you need to identify subject and finite verb in dependent clauses. Identifying finite verb is straightforward, but identifying subject isn’t: Sometimes the marker word is the subject and sometimes a regular noun or pronoun is. Learn how to identify subject in dependent clauses.

Omission of marker word and Reduction of clause

Professional writers make dependent clauses concise (or reduce wordiness) wherever they can. Even a word less counts. A dependent clause can be made concise in two ways: omission of marker word and reduction of clause.

As the name suggests, omission of marker word means dropping the marker word that starts a dependent clause. Such omission doesn’t change the nature of the clause: a noun clause stays a noun clause and a relative clause stays a relative clause. For omission of marker words in relative clause, refer the post on relative pronoun and relative adverb (linked earlier). For omission of marker words in noun clause, refer the post on that-clause (linked earlier). Marker word in adverb clause can’t be omitted.

Unlike omission of marker word, reduction of clause is procedurally complex and results in a phrase.

Exercises on clause

Take exercises on clause: