Subordinate Clause Definition and Examples
This article will answer questions like what is a subordinate clause and how we use subordinate clauses.
A clause that depends on another clause and cannot make sense by itself is called a dependent or subordinate clause. Like an independent clause, it always consists of two parts a subject and a predicate. The predicate consists of a verb or verb phrase, while the subject consists of a noun, a pronoun, or a phrase containing either.
A subordinate clause usually begins with a subordinating word. The subordinating words include subordinating conjunctions such as after, once, until, though, although, since, when, as, as soon as, as long as, than, even if, where, rather than, provided, because, that, whereas, if, unless, while.
Relative or interrogative pronouns such as that, who/whom, which, what, whoever/whomever, whose, whatever, whichever.
Look at an example of how a dependent clause depends on the main clause.
When I got home yesterday
Does this group of words a clause? Yes, because it has the subject ‘I’ and verb ‘go.’
Does it is a sentence by itself? No, because when I say this to someone, he must ask what happened when you got home. So, it is a dependent clause. We must add some more information, i.e., an independent clause, to make this group of words a complete sentence.
When I got home yesterday, I watched TV for one hour.
The second group of words has its own subject and verb, and it stands as a complete sentence. So, it is an independent clause and also completes the meaning of the dependent clause in the complete sentence.
when I left the home
This clause has a subject ‘we’ and a verb ‘left .’But this clause can’t stand on itself. It needs an independent clause to make complete sense. We can add an independent clause to make this dependent clause meaningful.
When I left home, I hired a taxi for the airport.
This is a complete sentence that has both independent and dependent clauses.
How to Link Dependent and Independent Clause?
Dependent and independent clauses can be linked to make up of one large sentence. The usual linking words are subordinating conjunction and relative pronouns. Common coordinating conjunctions and relative pronouns are listed above.
The following are examples of dependent and independent clauses that link together with subordinating conjunctions or relative or interrogative pronouns. The dependent clause of each of the following sentences is underlined.
- She told me what I should wear.
- This is the chair that the boy brings.
- She is the woman whom I give the money.
- You can give that away to whomsoever you like.
- I had better leave before my dad gets here.
- Take whatever you want.
Where do We Use Subordinate Clause?
Dependent or subordinate clauses are used to make complex sentences. Sub-ordinate conjunctions are used to join both clauses.
- I don’t understand what she is talking about.
- We could live in peace if we cooperated.
- You can stay where you like.
- I didn’t hear what he said?
- I never dream of things which are beyond out of my hands.
- We will go out when the weather gets colder.
- I left home early because I had to study.
- Anyone who knows little about computers knows that.
Subordinate clauses are also used to make compound-complex sentences. A compound-complex sentence is a type of sentence in which more than one independent clause is joined by one or more dependent or subordinate clauses.
- Even though I got the first position, I didn’t organize the party, but my dad bought me a laptop.
- We entered the hall after the chief guest came, but some of my friends didn’t join the meeting.
In each compound-complex sentence, the underlined part is a subordinate clause combined with independent clauses.
How do you Identify Independent and Subordinate Clauses?
You all know that any group of words having a subject-verb combination is a clause. But to determine whether a clause is dependent or independent is to know the components of both clauses. An independent clause has three main components.
1. A subject – It tells us what the group of words is about.
2. A verb – It tells us what the person or thing is doing.
3. It expresses a complete thought.
An independent clause can be as short as two words, i.e., subject and verb, for example.
Here the subject is I, and the verb work and expresses a complete thought since all the three conditions are met, so it is an independent clause.
But an independent clause can be lengthy. For example
I work in the office all day.
A sentence may have two independent clauses joined by proper punctuation. For example
I work in the office all day; I feel very tired now.
On the other hand, a dependent clause also has a subject-verb combination, but it doesn’t make a complete thought. It always appears as a part of an independent clause and adds more necessary or interesting information to it.
Dependent clauses always begin with marked words. For example, read the group of words.
Because she forgot her wallet.
Does this group of words have its own subject? Yes, the pronoun she.
Does it have its own verb? Yes, forgot
Does it make a complete thought? No
To make it meaningful, we must add an independent clause.
She didn’t buy clothes because she had forgotten her wallet.