Unit 8.1

Independent and Dependent Clauses


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Introduction

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.

Form

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.

Example

  1. Independent Clause:
    • I studied for my biology test. 
    • We will stay at home.
    • They all went to school. 
  2. Independent Clause (+ , +) + Connector + Dependent Clause:
    • My mum called me while I was studying.
    • We won’t go to the park as it started raining.
    • I will finish praying before the priest comes back.
  3. Connector + Dependent Clause + (,) + Independent Clause:
    • While I was working, my friends invited me to a party.
    • Unless you help me, I will not be able to do it.
    • After we finished school, we went to the party. 

Use

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.

Summary

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 her sister studies chemistry cannot stand alone, since it depends on the principal clause.
— “While his sister studies chemistry, he studies history.” = While her sister studies chemistry cannot stand alone, since it depends on the principal clause.

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.

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