Types of Clauses in English Grammar| What is a clause?

A clause is a component of a sentence.

A clause is a collection of words with subject and predicate. A sentence is composed of at least one clause. Here are some examples of clauses.

John purchased a new car. (One sentence)One clause(John purchased a new car but is still using his old one. (One sentence.Two clauses(

Every clause has at least a subject and a verb. There are some characteristics that distinguish different types of clauses from one another. There are three types of clauses:

  1. Independent Clauses (Main Clause)
  2. Dependent Clauses (Subordinate Clause)
  3. Relative Clauses (Adjective Clause)
  4. Noun Clauses

Types of Clauses

Independent Clauses (Main Clause)

A complete sentence is an independent (or main) clause. It includes a subject, verb, and expresses a complete thought within context and meaning. It conveys a complete thought.

Independent clause structure:Subject+Verb=Total Thought.

She, for example, walked. This sentence is only two words long, but it’s still complete due to the subject and predicate.

Main clauses can be joined by a coordinating conjunction to form complex or compound sentences.


Take, for example:He purchased a new carButHe is still using the old one. The word “but” can be used to combine two separate clauses.

Dependent Clauses (Subordinate Clause)

A dependent clause, also known as a subordinate clause, is a part of a sentence. It contains a subject or verb, but doesn’t convey the whole meaning. While they can be understood on their own, dependent clauses (or subordinate clauses) are dependent on the context and meaning of the sentence. To create a complex sentence, a dependent clause is joined with an independent clause. This often begins with a subordinating conjunction.

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Subordinating Conjunctions

Beforeeven ifEven thoughIf
OnceIt is provided thatInstead ofSo that
SinceHoweverMore thanThat
UntilIf notWheneverWhen

Dependent clause structure:
Subordinate Conjunction + Subject + verb = Incomplete Thought.

Example: I buy chips every time I go to the superstore.

Relative Clauses (Adjective Clause)

A relative clause begins with the relative pronoun at its beginning, such as who, which or whose. It is important to distinguish between an antecedent that is human (“who(m)”) and a non-human (“which”) antecedent. It will be made clearer by the following.

Who (m)?This is when the antecedent is a person.
ThatIt can be used to refer either to a person, or to a thing.
WhichIt can be used to refer any other than a person.

(It is notable that who is not commonly used in spoken English is not mentioned.

Examples of relative clauses

  • Yesterday was the day I saw my friends. My friend with curly hair was extremely intelligent.
  • I lost the race.

Restrictive Relative and Non-Restrictive Clauses

Restrictive relative clauses can also be called defining relative clauses, or identifying relative clauses. Non-restrictive relatives clauses, on the other hand, are known as non-defining relative clauses or non-identifying relative clauses. They are preceded by either a pause or a period in writing.

Restrictive Clause Example:

Programmers who create web applications will reap a huge profit.

Non-Restrictive Clause Example:

Programmers who create web applications will make a lot of money.

SubjectWho, that?Which
ObjectWho, what, when?Which
After prepositionWhoWhich
PossessiveWhom?Which, whose?
That, however,WhoWhich
That, however,Who, what?Which
Which, whose?Whom?Which, whose?

Noun Clauses

Noun clauses:It’s a dependent clause, which works like anoun. Noun clauses may be used as subject, indirect or direct objects or predicate nomatives. These are some examples:

  • Please tell me about the person who put his book on the table.(direct object).
  • I will tell anyone who listens to my story.(indirect object).
  • The lights are turned off by the person who is last to go.(subject)
  • I’m looking for the boy with curled hair to join my team.(predicate nominative)
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Noun clauses often begin with pronouns or other words. This particular word is usually used in a sentence to perform a grammatical function.

  1. Relative pronounsThat, who, what, whom, whose?
  2. Indefinite relative pronounsAnybody, anyone, anyplace, any time, regardless of whether or not it is if
  3. Interrogative adjectiveWhat
  4. Interrogative adverb:How
  5. Interrogative pronounWho
  6. Subordinating conjunctions:When, how, where, why, whenever

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