A dependent clause, also called subordinate clause, is a grammatical group of words containing both subject and verb that doesn’t represent a complete idea. Since it doesn’t represent a complete idea, it can’t stand as a sentence and hence requires support of an independent clause to exist.
However, not any group of words containing subject and verb that doesn’t represent a complete idea qualifies as a dependent clause. For example, these two are not dependent clauses, even though they contain subject and verb and don’t represent a complete idea.
I wrote. [Subject and verb are I and wrote, respectively. The idea is incomplete: I wrote what?]
He appeared. [Subject and verb are He and appeared, respectively. The idea is incomplete: He appeared what?]
English language prescribes only few groups of words as dependent clauses. Here are examples of the three most common: noun clause, relative clause (also called adjective clause), and adverb clause. In a sentence, the three function like their word counterparts (noun, adjective, and adverb, respectively), and hence the name.
Because a dependent clause is real only in the company of an independent clause, there is little point in studying them in isolation. In this post, we’ll look at examples of dependent clause as part of sentences. The dependent clause in each example has been underlined and the marker word that starts the clause highlighted in bold. (The three dependent clauses start with certain marker words.)
To get the most out of these examples, see if they fulfil the definition of a dependent clause: presence of both subject and verb without forming a complete idea. It may be challenging for you to identify subject and verb, especially subject, in a dependent clause, but try to see that dependent clauses represent an incomplete idea.
- Examples of independent clause
- Identifying a dependent clause as noun, relative, or adverb made easy
Examples of noun clause
A noun clause is a dependent clause that can take the place of a noun in a sentence. In other words, it can do whatever a noun (or pronoun) can: subject, object of verb, indirect object of verb, object of preposition, and subject complement. In the examples below, the marker words that start a noun clause have been highlighted in bold, and the role that the clause plays in the sentence is mentioned in square brackets.
What transpired in the meeting is a secret. [Subject]
How the investment fares is beyond my control. [Subject]
What is required is an elaborate system to work on students’ weak areas. [Subject]
Drunkenness reveals what soberness conceals. [Object of verb]
Our grandfather ensured that all family members come together at least once a week for dinner. [Object of verb]
This proverb tells
how to perform a task efficiently. [It doesn’t contain a finite verb (to perform is an infinitive), implying it’s a phrase and not a dependent clause]
This proverb tells how you can perform a task efficiently. [Object of verb]
You’ve to face the consequences regardless of who you are. [Object of preposition]
Don’t copy others to fit into what others want to see. [Object of preposition]
You are what you eat. [Subject complement]
Home is where the heart is. [Subject complement]
The problem is that the test is not full-proof. [Subject complement]
Examples of relative (or adjective) clause
A relative clause is a dependent clause that functions like an adjective in describing nouns. Because it functions like an adjective, it is also called an adjective clause. It starts with a relative pronoun (who, whose, whom, that, and which) or a relative adverb (when, where, and why), which have been highlighted in bold in each example, and is placed immediately after the noun phrase it modifies.
The man who has a scar on his face is a dreaded criminal.
Roger Federer, who is eyeing another title, will play his first match tomorrow.
Most Covid deaths have happened in states whose hospitals have run out of capacity.
Federer changed the racket whose strings had snapped.
Sam, whom I trusted blindly, betrayed me.
You should have at least few real friends whom you can rely on in times of need.
The laptop that was gifted by my grandfather is still functioning.
The family that eats together stays together.
People will see through the facade you’re putting up and not respect you. [Under certain conditions, the relative pronoun (that here) may be omitted.]
It’s not uncommon to forget the main goal of the work you’re doing and instead wander off into unnecessary trivialities. [Another example of omission of relative pronoun]
As a result, sleek wall-mounted device, which people can install at home, was born.
Your rivals will be good in something in which you aren’t. [Relative clauses may be preceded by prepositions such as in]
You can’t put a person in a role for which he doesn’t possess skills. [This time, preposition for precedes the relative clause]
John’s pet dog bit him, which surprised him. [Unlike the last three sentences, where which refers to the preceding noun phrase, here and in the next sentence which refers to the entire preceding clause. This is a property unique to which.]
Money without skill won’t keep them meaningfully engaged, which can lead to problems of its own.
Last year, when I was still a novice at coding, I wrote such buggy software.
Are you referring to the period when 60 percent of our population was engaged in agriculture and allied industry?
Plastic trash has risen to a level where it is being found in marine life.
The house where no one has lived for years looks like a ghost house.
There is no reason why we can’t resolve this problem through negotiation.
Poor rainfall is the reason why food grain production didn’t increase this year.
Examples of adverb clause
An adverb clause is a dependent clause that acts as an adverb in a sentence. In the examples below, marker words that start that the adverb clause have been highlighted in bold.
After few months of training, she reached seventy words a minute. [It’s not a dependent clause because it doesn’t contain a finite verb. It’s a prepositional phrase, in fact.]
After Mary trained for few months, she reached seventy words a minute.
Although she did not want to go, she went to work.
As long as I stay healthy, I don’t bother about even major setbacks like losing money.
Just as a hungry wolf will move from place to place to find food, a person with limited means will hop from job to job for a better pay cheque.
While going through my Facebook feed, I came across a disturbing photo. [No finite verb, implying no dependent clause]
While I was going through my Facebook feed, I came across a disturbing photo.
In case you need to reach out to the author, you may do so by writing at the following email id.
Don’t bother whether the work is high or low.
I’m focused on picking few skills even if I’ve to compromise on my living standard because of modest salary.
I bought three trousers and four shirts for 30 percent discount, even though I don’t need them.
Whereas mornings are most productive for most, nights are most productive for me.
If you don’t protest a wrong done to you, another will be done.
Though a tree grows ever so high, the falling leaves return to the ground.
Whatever revenue the project yields, it is going to be an integral part of this department.
I wouldn’t advise you to move to that locality as it’s not peaceful and sees occasional law & order problems.
Where ignorance is bliss, it’s a folly to be wise.
When the argument heated up with my friend, I deescalated the matter, excused myself, and walked away.
Because technology has improved a lot in the last ten years, smartphones have become better.
Since you didn’t submit the assignment, I can’t give you any marks due for it.
We avoid difficult conversations till the issue becomes unmanageable.
Unless you work in the trenches and learn nuts & bolts of the trade, your effectiveness in senior roles may be compromised.
Until the lions produce their own historian, the story of the hunt will glorify only the hunter.
Examples of multiple dependent clauses in a sentence
Whomever makes it to the team would be well advised to remember how short his shelf-life can be. [Noun clause/ Noun clause]
If someone wants to look beautiful in an outfit, the person will happily bear the discomfort that goes with that outfit. [Adverb clause/ Relative clause]
If you’ve vision or an idea to make positive change and you don’t do anything about it, you’re merely daydreaming. [Adverb clause/ Adverb clause. Note that the second if has been omitted.]
An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep. [Relative clause/ Relative clause. The relative pronoun that has been omitted in both the relative clauses.]
Foods that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly have high GI, whereas foods that release glucose gradually tend to have low GI. [Relative clause/ Adverb clause/ Relative clause. The second relative clause, that… gradually, is contained within the adverb clause.]