Clauses

A clause is one of the building blocks of English sentences. It contains both a subject and a verb and might express a complete thought. Whether it does depends upon what type of clause it is. A dependent clause never expresses a complete thought; whereas, an independent clause always does.

Example: He refused to watch the Knicks play.

The above example contains an independent clause. Its subject is “He,” and the verb is “refused.” Further, the sentence makes sense.

Example: Because he refused to watch the Knicks play.

This example has the same subject and verb as the previous one; however, it’s not an independent clause. Instead, it’s a dependent clause. It contains an incomplete thought. The only way it can be made complete is by adding an independent clause to it.

A clause can have more than one noun or pronoun as its subject.

Example: Jack and Jill ran up the hill.

In this example, the subject contains two nouns, Jack and Jill, thus it’s a compound subject. A compound subject requires a plural verb, as in “Jack and Jill are friends.” Likewise, a subject can have more than one verb, as in the next example.

Example: Jack danced and sang in the play.

This example’s “simple subject,” Jack, contains only one noun but has a compound verb, whose elements are underlined.

The answer to yesterday’s true/false question is true. If you remove the subordinating conjunction from a dependent clause, you have converted the dependent clause into an independent clause. However, if the dependent clause began the sentence, you’ve also created a grammar error: the comma splice. More in the next grammar post.

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