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*Asterisk = examples of errors or poor constructions*.

Student Learning: Grammar

Clauses: Dependent and Independent

To help with using commas, semi-colons and avoiding sentence fragments it is helpful first to understand types of clauses that appear in a sentence.

  1. 1.1 Defining "clause"

    An independent clause is a group of words which will have at the very least a subject (a person or thing) and a verb. It expresses a complete idea and can stand alone as a sentence. It will often have an object (the recipient of the verb). All sentences must have an independent clause.

Christina is writing her thesis

Most modern televisions produce heat.

  1. 1.2 Dependent clauses:

    A dependent clause is a group of words with a subject and verb but which fails to express a complete idea; it leaves us wanting more information in order to get the idea that is intended, and is dependent on another clause within the sentence. Although it seems illogical, an independent clause/sentence can easily become dependent by adding words called dependent markers (Hover for list).
    Look at the examples of dependent clauses in the box below.

Although Christina is writing her thesis...   

While most modern televisons produce heat...   

Below are examples of other markers that make an independent clause dependent when placed before it. When they are used we must add an independent clause to the sentence to make it complete.

Although Christina is writing her thesis, she took time out to visit her family.

Old-fashioned appliances were noisy, while most modern televisons produce heat.

Note that the order of the clauses and the placement of the dependent markers are variable. (Check out commas in the Run-on sentences lesson).