Clauses: Building Blocks for Sentences



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Clauses: Building Blocks for Sentences

  • What is a clause?
  • A clause is a group of related words containing a subject and a verb.
  • It is different from a phrase in that a phrase does not include a subject and a verb relationship.
  • There are many different kinds of clauses. It would be helpful to review some of the grammar vocabulary we use to talk about clauses.
  • Words and phrases in this color are hyperlinks to the Guide to Grammar & Writing.

Clauses: Building Blocks for Sentences

  • Clauses go by many names. Here are some definitions:
  • 1. Independent: A clause that can stand by itself and still make sense. An independent clause could be its own sentence, but is often part of a larger structure, combined with other independent clauses and with dependent clauses. Independent clauses are sometimes called essential or restrictive clauses.
  • 2. Dependent: A clause that cannot stand by itself. It depends on something else, an independent clause, for its meaning. A dependent clause trying to stand by itself would be a sentence fragment. Dependent clauses are sometimes called subordinate, nonessential, or nonrestrictive clauses. We will review the different kinds of dependent clauses.

Clauses: Building Blocks for Sentences

  • And here are some examples of independent clauses . . . .
  • 1. Independent clauses:
  • Glaciers often leave behind holes in the ground.
  • These holes are called kettles, and they look just like scooped-out pots.
  • Glaciers also leave behind enormous deposits of glacial “garbage”; these deposits are called morains.
  • Kettle holes result when a large block of ice is left behind the glacier and then melts away, leaving a large depression.
  • This last sentence deserves further attention . . . .

Clauses: Building Blocks for Sentences

  • Kettle holes result when a large block of ice is left behind the glacier and then melts away, leaving a large depression.
  • The dependent clause begins with what is called a subordinating conjunction. This causes the clause to be dependent upon the rest of the sentence for its meaning; it cannot stand by itself.
  • More on dependent clauses in a moment. . . .

Clauses: Building Blocks for Sentences

  • Independent clauses can be connected in a variety of ways:
  • 1. By a comma and little conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, yet, and sometimes so).
  • 3. By a semicolon accompanied by a conjunctive adverb (such as however, moreover, nevertheless, as a result, consequently, etc.).
  • 4. And, of course, independent clauses are often not connected by punctuation at all but are separated by a period.

Clauses: Building Blocks for Sentences

  • Dependent clauses can be identified and classified according to their role in the sentence.
  • Noun clauses do anything that a noun can do. They can be subjects, objects, and objects of prepositions.
  • What Turveydrop has forgotten about American politics could fill entire libraries.
  • President Johnson finally revealed what he had in mind for his congressional leaders.

Clauses: Building Blocks for Sentences

  • Dependent clauses can be identified and classified according to their role in the sentence.
  • ADVERB CLAUSES tend to tell us something about the sentence’s main verb: when, why, under what conditions.
  • After Jubal Early invaded the outskirts of Washington, Congressional leaders took the southern threat more seriously.
  • Lincoln insisted on attending the theater that night because it was important to demonstrate domestic tranquility.
  • Notice how the dependent clauses begin with “dependent words,” words that subordinate what follows to the rest of the sentence. These words are also called subordinating conjunctions.

Clauses: Building Blocks for Sentences

  • Dependent clauses can be identified and classified according to their role in the sentence.
  • ADJECTIVE CLAUSES modify nouns or pronouns in the rest of the sentence..
  • The Internet, which started out as a means for military and academic types to share documents, has become a household necessity.
  • Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, could never have foreseen the popularity of his invention.
  • Notice, now, how the subject is often separated from its verb by information represented by the dependent clause.

Clauses: Building Blocks for Sentences

  • Sometimes an adjective clause has no subject other than the relative pronoun that introduces the clauses.
  • The Internet was started in 1969 under a contract let by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) which connected four major computers at universities in the southwestern US (UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, UCSB, and the University of Utah).
  • Such clauses — all beginning with “which,” “that,” or a form of “who” — are also known as RELATIVE CLAUSES. The relative pronoun serves as the subject of the dependent clause and relates to some word or idea in the independent clause.

Clauses: Building Blocks for Sentences

  • Sentence Fragments
  • Run-on Sentences
  • Don’t forget to take the quizzes listed at the end of the section on clauses.
  • and
  • This PowerPoint presentation was created by
  • Charles Darling, PhD
  • Professor of English and Webmaster
  • Capital Community College
  • Hartford, Connecticut
  • copyright November 1999


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