Examples of Independent Clause [and Its Look-Alikes]

An independent clause is a grammatical group of words containing both subject and verb, and representing a complete idea. Since it represents a complete idea, it can stand on its own as a sentence. Every sentence must have at least one independent clause.

This post contains several examples of independent clause, which have been divided into two parts: the first contains regular, statement-kind independent clauses; the second contains somewhat non-regular independent clauses. The post also contains few examples of fragments that may be mistook as independent clause. They’ve been crossed out to stand out from independent clauses.

Whatever form an independent clause takes, its fundamental remains the same: presence of both subject and (finite) verb and a complete idea. To get the most out of these examples, see if they meet this fundamental.

(Comments have been made in square brackets.)

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1. Examples of independent clause

Familiarity breeds contempt.

The customer is always right.

Governments have far-reaching powers.

It’s better to lose the battle and win the war.

It is easy to find thousand soldiers but hard to find a good general.

A word of caution here. [No subject-verb combination]

I would sound a word of caution here. [This is an independent clause.]

Moved from city to city. [No subject-verb combination.]

He moved from city to city. [This is an independent clause.]

So many questions but so few answers. [No subject-verb combination]

There are so many questions but so few answers. [This is an independent clause.]

The researcher discovered. [Subject-verb combination but incomplete meaning. The researcher discovered what? Discover is a transitive verb and hence requires an object to complete the meaning.]

The researcher discovered a new species of frog. [This is an independent clause.]

I felt. [Subject-verb combination but incomplete meaning. I felt what? Subject followed by a linking verb requires a subject complement (feel is a linking verb like be verb).]

I felt numb. [This is an independent clause.]

The man who scaled all peaks above 8,00 meters in six months and six days. [No subject-verb combination. It’s a noun phrase (the entire thing can stand as subject of a sentence) containing a dependent clause who has… winter, which contains its own subject (who) and verb (has scaled).]

The man who scaled all peaks above 8,00 meters in six months and six days recently summitted K2 in winter. [This is an independent clause.]

Adding phrases doesn’t change an independent clause

Unlike a clause, a phrase doesn’t have a subject-verb unit. Hence, adding phrases to an independent clause doesn’t disturb its fundamental nature, the subject-verb unit. It remains an independent clause as before. All sentences that follow contain exactly one independent clause – and no dependent clause.

The jaguar pounced on the caiman.

The jaguar pounced on the caiman soaking sun on the riverside.

After creeping close and waiting for the right moment, the jaguar pounced on the caiman soaking sun on the riverside, throttling it and dragging it into the thick Amazon jungle. [This sentence and the previous two, despite their lengths, contain exactly one subject-verb pair, implying one independent clause. Note that when we talk of verb in a clause, whether dependent or independent, we mean finite verb. In the previous sentence, soaking isn’t a finite verb. So are creeping, waiting, soaking, throttling, and dragging in this.]

With low attention spans in the digital world, people don’t have the patience to read unnecessary stuff in your emails and other communications.

When leading Microsoft, Bill Gates used to take breaks for few days from his work twice a year to think about the big picture.

The Vice President in our division was quite a busy and harried person, regularly reviewing our progress against the targets and answering to the top management.

Because of our obsession with releasing the best possible software, we’ve taken too long, allowing competitors to catch up with us.

When communicating with clients, you’ve to be at your most polite behaviour, making sure they’re not offended in any way.

In the bygone era of horse carriages, blacksmiths sometimes used to put too many irons into the fire to meet high demand of horseshoes, resulting in none of the irons getting adequately hot.

I often schedule most of my meetings in the second half of Monday to get similar kind of work done in one go.

Despite the law being same for everyone, some can get favourable decisions by influencing decision makers, hiring the best lawyers, and delaying the case if it suits them, among several measures at their command.

With growing income disparities in the society, government must strengthen its skilling program for the unemployed and improve welfare programs for the poor.

2. These too are independent clauses

Multiple subjects and verbs don’t necessarily make multiple independent clauses

An independent clause can have more than one subject (called compound subject) and more than one verb (called compound predicate). All these sentences, for example, contain one and only one independent clause. The last two contain compound subject; others contain compound predicate.

You’ve to work hard, deliver several projects, and get noticed.

We ate pizza for dinner and had ice cream for dessert.

I worked hard but failed in the exam.

The company had to lay off some employees or reduce salaries of all.

After committing the fraud, the tycoon fled to another country but was nabbed and extradited.

The author delves in great detail on religions worshipping one god while denying the existence of other gods, but doesn’t explain reasons for some religions such as Buddhism not following any deity.

Bears and wolves live in the mountains and in forests.

Books and friends should be few but good.

Imperatives

An imperative sentence issues command or makes request. The subject you is implied but not mentioned in such sentences. Examples:

Just learn.

Never write a letter when angry.

Don’t bother whether the work is high or low.

Don’t be like them.

Wait for your anger to subside.

Make sure you’ve done adequate due diligence before making someone friends.

Questions

We’re so used to seeing only declarative sentences as independent clauses that we forget that questions too are independent clauses. Examples:

What drill to follow if fire breaks out in the building? [No subject-verb combination. to follow is a non-finite (infinitive) verb]

What drill should you follow if fire breaks out in the building? [This is an independent clause.]

How to protect your home from termites? [No subject-verb combination]

How do you protect your home from termites? [This is an independent clause.]

When a twig grows hard? [That’s not how an interrogative sentence is written.]

When does a twig grow hard? [This is an independent clause.]

Anyone coming for the movie? [That’s not how an interrogative sentence is written. This goes in speaking, but not in writing.]

Is anyone coming for the movie? [This is an independent clause.]

Have you sat with friends for a frugal meal or drink after a long time at a spartan place?

Others

No one moved.

Nothing happens here.

That’s mine.

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