Unit 8.1

Independent and Dependent Clauses


A complex sentence is usually composed by an independent clause and at least one dependent or subordinate clause.

An independent clause is a group of words with a complete meaning, while a dependent clause is a group a words without a complete meaning.


A complex sentence may have these structures:

  1. Independent Clause
  2. Independent Clause (+ , +) + Connector + Dependent Clause
  3. Connector + Dependent Clause + (,) + Independent Clause

A dependent clause can have the same subject of the independent clause or a different one in complicated sentences.


  1. Independent clause
    • The Pope called me.
    • We will stay at the church.
    • I will finish practising religion.
  2. Independent clause before the dependent
    • The Pope called me while I was praying.
    • We will stay at the church, as it started raining.
    • I will finish praying before the priest comes back.
  3. Dependent clause before the independent
    • While I was praying, the Pope called me.
    • As it has started raining, we will stay at the church.
    • Before the priest comes back, I will finish praying.


The independent clause is a group of words with a complete meaning that can stand alone as a sentence.

We use dependent or subordinate clauses when we want to add more information to the independent clause. As a consequence, we cannot use dependent clauses to form a complete sentence.


A complex sentence is made up of an independent clause, which can stand alone, and a dependent (subordinate) clause, which cannot stand alone as a complete sentence.

The structures are:

  • The first option is that the independent clause stands alone.
  • The second option is to start with the independent clause, potentially followed by a comma followed by a connector and a dependent clause.
  • The third option is to start with the connector followed by a dependent clause, a comma and the independent clause.

For example:

— “He studies history.” = The independent clause can stand alone.
— “He studies history while his sister studies chemistry.
— “While his sister studies chemistry, he studies history.

The dependent clause adds more information to the independent clause (He studies history) and can be placed at the beggining or at the end of the sentence.


Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.