Independent Clause Definition and Examples

Independent Clause Definition

The main clause (also called an independent or principle clause) is a clause that contains a subject and predicate of its own and forms a complete and independent thought. It does not need any information to make it complete.
Since it is a complete sentence, we always begin it using a capital letter and end it with a period. 
The rain started after midnight, but they had already left.
This sentence contains two clauses joined by the conjunction but. Both the clauses have their own subject and verb or predicate; therefore, they are main clauses.
A sentence may compose of one dependent and one independent clause. The underlined part in the following sentence is a main clause .
We stay where we stayed yesterday.
The following are two examples of different main clauses. The first clause consists of a subject and verb only. 
He spoke.
He spoke loudly to the children.

Independent Clause vs. Simple Sentence (The Difference)

There is no difference in the structure of a simple sentence and a main clause. A simple sentence is a group of words containing a subject and a verb. For example
  • She refuses. (subject=she and verb=refuses) 
  • I want to eat a chicken burger. (subject: I and verb: want)
  • I don’t believe him. (subject: I and verb: don’t believe)
A sentence is said to be an independent/main clause only when combined in a larger sentence that has one or more additional independent or subordinate clauses. For example
  • He wanted to take a bath, but I wanted to take breakfast first.
  • I live alone; I wish I lived with my family.
Each sentence consists of two simple sentences that make up one large sentence in these examples. We can say that a simple sentence will become an independent clause when it acts as a part of a large sentence. 
This means a simple sentence is another word used to name an independent clause.

How do We Punctuate Two or More Independent Clauses?

When a sentence consists of two or more than two independent clauses, they must be separated with proper punctuation. The following are some rules to punctuate them in a sentence.
1 Use a period between two clauses to separate them. 
Structure: (Independent clause). (Independent clause).
Example: The government introduces a new policy every year. Many companies are hiring new people.
2 Link main clauses with a comma and coordinating conjunction, such as for, but, and, or, nor, so, yet.
Structure: (Independent clause), (conjunction) (independent clause).
Example: New smartphone verities are introduced every year, and companies release new models.
3 Put semicolon after first main clause.
Structure: (Independent clause); (independent clause).
Example: New smartphone verities are introduced every year; companies release new models.
4 Relate main clauses with a semicolon and transitional expression or conjunctive adverb, for example, however, for example, as a result.
Structure: (Main clause), (transitional expression or conjunctive adverb), (independent clause).
Example: New smartphones verities are introduced every year; as a result, companies are releasing new models.

Uses of Independent Clauses

Independent Clauses in Compound Sentences
We use them to make compound sentences when they have the same grammatical form and are joined by a conjunction such as and, or, or but. For example
A bee stung the boy, and he dropped his phone.
This sentence consists of two independent clauses of equal importance and joined by the conjunction, ‘and’ that makes one compound sentence.
More Examples
  • It was after midnight, and the last train had already left. 
(The conjunction and joins two clauses in the compound sentence.)
First independent clause: I am trying to solve the quiz. 
Second independent clause: The quiz is too lengthy.
We can combine these two independent clauses by suitable conjunction to make one compound sentence.
I am trying to solve the quiz, but it was too lengthy.
Independent Clauses in Complex Sentences
The independent clauses are joined with dependent clauses to make complex sentences. 
She goes to school so that she may learn.
This is a complex sentence the first part, ‘she goes to school,’ is an independent clause joined with the dependent clause ‘so that she may learn.’
Independent Clauses in Complex-Compound Sentences
We use at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses to make a sentence called a complex-compound sentence.
The cat stared at us, and the dog barked at us because they didn’t like us.
In this sentence, the underlined two clauses are independent that joined by the coordinating conjunction. The clause written in bold is a dependent clause that joins with the two main clauses by a subordinating conjunction.

What are Co-ordinate Clauses

Clauses that have equal weight or importance are called coordinate clauses. We use coordinate clauses to make compound sentences. In coordinate clauses, neither clause is part of the other. Coordinate is joined by a conjunction called coordinating conjunction. 
For example, but, and, or, so, nor, and yet are coordinating conjunctions.
The man was poor, but he was honest.
This sentence comprises of two independent clauses of equal importance joined by the conjunction but
We were eating.
She was not eating.
We were eating, but she was not eating.

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