Independent and dependent(subordinate) clauses: definition, difference, and examples.


The sentences are basically divided into clauses and phrases. Here we are looking at Independent and dependent clauses.

in this lesson, we are going to see the definition, difference, and some examples of Independent and dependent(subordinate) clauses.

 Independent and dependent clauses.

Difference between Independent and dependent clauses with the definition:

Independent Clause:

An independent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a predicate. It can stand by itself as a sentence by expressing a single complete thought.


S ( subject )P ( predicate )V ( verb ).


The new students learn grammar by heart.

            S                                     P

                             V is a good website to learn grammar.

            S                                               P


Breakfast is a very important meal.

       S                               P


  • The verb is the most important part of the predicate because It tells us what the subject is or what is doing.
  • Two independent clauses can be joined by a Coordinating Conjunctions.
  • Coordinating conjunctions are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
    • You can always remember them by the term: “FANBOYS”
    • For And Nor But Or Yet So


I get high marks in English grammar, for making my parents happy.

I like the grammar subject, and my friend likes math.

John doesn’t understand English grammar, nor does he understand math.

I would like to hang out with my friends, but I need to finish my homework.

I need to buy a new tablet or repair my old smartphone.

I like technology, yet I don’t have any devices.

My parents want me to get high marks, so I study hard.

Dependent Clause:

Dependent clauses or (subordinate clause) are different from independent clauses. As we have seen at the beginning of this lesson that an independent clause can stand by itself as a complete sentence and provide a complete thought (meaning). A dependent clause, the opposite. It neither, cannot stand by itself nor provide a complete thought (meaning).


There are three types of the dependent clause which are: adjective clause (relative clause), adverb clause, noun clause. In the dependent clause the whole clause function as an adjective clause, an adverb clause, or a noun clause.


The man who we met yesterday is my uncle. (Adjective Clause).

What I do every night is my homework. (Noun Clause).

In spite of his handicap, he gets high marks. (Adverb Clause).

Adjective Clause:

An adjective clause (relative clause) is a dependent clause as we have seen. It usually modifies nouns or pronouns. The whole clause functions as an adjective to modify a noun. Usually begins with a relative pronoun (who, whom, whose, which or that) a relative adverb (when, where and why).


The man who is smoking is my uncle.

The house where we met yesterday is mine.

There are two main types of adjective clauses: defining clause(restrictive) and non-defining (nonrestrictive).

Restrictive: is an adjective clause set off by commas.


The grammar checker software I use is very helpful. (restrictive)

John, whose car is red, is very rich. (nonrestrictive)

Adverb Clause:

An adverb clause is a dependent clause that plays the role of an adverb. It usually modifies verbs and answers one of the questions: why, when, where, or how. Like any other dependent clause, it has a subject and a verb.

An adverb clause must have a subordinate conjunction to connect with the rest of the sentence.

Some of the common subordinate conjunctions are:

After, Before, Once, Since, That, Which, Whichever, Who, Whoever, Although, When, Whenever, While, As soon as, As long as …

An adverb clause could occur at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the sentence. Whatever, when it occurs at the beginning or at the middle it requires commas. However, when it occurs at the end of the sentence it does not need commas.


Although he is smart, he gets bad marks.

My friend, though he is smart, he gets bad marks.

I get high marks more than he did.


There are many types of adverb clauses. We can list from them :

Adverb clause of time, of place, of contrast, of cause …


Adverb clause of time:

Eg: before the teacher comes in, we will revise our lessons.

Adverb clause of place:

Eg: wherever you find a factory, there will be a lot of workers.

Adverb clause of cause:

Eg: I always get high marks because I study hard.

Adverb clause of purpose:

Eg: So that he could reach the success, he tries a lot.

Adverb clause of contrast:

Eg: Although he doesn’t study grammar, he gets high marks.

Noun Clause:

Noun clause doesn’t modify anything. The whole clause functions as a noun and like any other clause it has a subject and a verb.

A noun clause is always a dependent clause (subordinate clause).

Noun clauses begin with conjunctions such as: what, when, where, how, who, which, whom, that, why, whether, whoever, whomever, whatever, whichever...

Types and functions of a noun clause:

A noun clause can function as :

  • Subject
  • Subject Complement
  • Object
    • Direct object
    • Indirect object
  • Object of preposition
  • Adjective complement


A noun clause functions as a subject.

  • When a sentence starts with a noun clause, it functions as a subject.

Eg: What you learned about grammar will help at the exam.

A noun clause functions as a subject complement.

  • When a noun clause provides extra information about a noun, it functions as a subject complement.

Eg: grammar is the subject that looks complicated.

A noun clause, function as an object.

  • A noun clause can functions as an object when it occurs after the verb or it is the recipient of the action.

Eg: Students don’t realize that grammar is very important.

A noun clause functions as an object of a preposition.

  • A noun clause can also function as an object of preposition when it occurs after a preposition. Like for, at, in, bt …

Eg: Grammar is really important for who wanted to learn English.

A noun clause functions as an adjective complement.

  • A noun clause can function as an adjective complement.

Eg: Students study hard hopefully that they can get high marks.

This was the definition, difference, and some examples of Independent and dependent(subordinate) clauses.

you can learn more about the dependent clause and independent clause on wikipedia.

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