What is a Clause? Types of Clauses

In English grammar, there are various elements and features that help us form a sentence. These mainly include the parts of speech such as nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, pronouns, etc. However, when we combine these different parts of speech systematically, we get clauses. And clauses are what actually make up a sentence.

In a general sense, clauses can be understood as groups of words that consist of a subject and a predicate. They are the parts of a sentence that holds meaning in itself. However, that is not all. There are different types of clauses and different ways of creating or introducing them.

Let us have a quick discussion below to learn them thoroughly with some important examples.

What is a Clause?

A clause is a major feature of written English. It is a group of words that consist of a subject and a predicate that help us indicate a thought by creating smooth and complex sentences.

Simply put, clauses are a collection of words that includes a subject and a verb which ultimately help us form a complete sentence conveying a complete thought. So, they are the parts of a sentence. They carry some meaning which when combined with other clauses produces complex sentences.

Different types of clauses

When we say clauses, there are mainly two broad classifications that we refer to. One is the independent clause, and the other is the dependent clause.

Independent clause: When a clause has a subject and a predicate and is enough to stand alone as a sentence, they are said to be an independent clause. That means independent clauses are the main types of clauses that constitute the primary part of a sentence. In fact, every sentence must have at least one independent sentence to be a complete one.

For example;

  • I love eating vegetables.
  • She is a good player.
  • The teacher seems very tired.

Dependent clause: When a clause has a subject and a predicate but cannot stand alone and form a sentence by itself, it is said to be a dependent clause. This is a type of clause that is always reliant on the main clause. Therefore, a dependent clause is always introduced with the help of a subordinating conjunction. That is also the reason why dependent clauses are known as subordinate clauses.

For example;

  • I love drinking tea after I finish my office work.
  • I went early because I was excited.
  • If you don’t work now, we will all miss our train.

While these are the two main types of clauses, there is another common type of clause;

Coordinate clauses: Coordinate clauses are the clauses produced by joining two independent clauses of equal importance by a coordinating conjunction.

For example:

I love eating chocolates, yet I don’t love drinking coffee.

Furthermore, we have different types of dependent clauses. Since dependent clauses aim to act as an informative clause rather than the main clause, they can function as three specific parts of speech. They are:

Adjective clauses: An adjective clause mainly aims to provide information about the noun of the main clause and act as an adjective. They are usually introduced by a relative pronoun.

Adverb clauses: This is a type that aims to modify the verb, adjective, or another adverb in a sentence. So, adverb clauses basically act as adverbs in groups of words instead of a single adverb word. They are usually introduced by a subordinating conjunction.

Noun clauses: This is the final type of dependent clause. Noun clauses simply aim to act like a noun in a sentence. That means they take the place of any noun in a sentence. They are usually introduced by a copular or linking word.

So, these are the different types of clauses, and each has a unique and variant purpose and functions. When all these clauses are combined under certain rules, we get complex sentences.

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