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Independent and Dependent Clauses

Independent and dependent clauses are the building blocks of sentences. A single
independent clause can be a sentence, by itself. However, dependent clauses are used to
make sentences more complete and more interesting. Using conjunctions and proper
punctuation, dependent and independent clauses can be joined together to create
interesting and complex compound sentences that are fun and engaging to read.

Independent Clause Defined

An independent clause is a clause that can stand on its own, by itself. It does not need to
be joined to any other clauses, because it contains all the information necessary to be a
complete sentences.
Independent clauses have three components:
1. They have a subject - they tell the reader what the sentence is about.
2. They have an action or predicate - they tell the reader what the subject is doing.
3. They express a complete thought - something happened or was said.
An independent clause can be as simple as a subject and a verb:

Jim reads.

Jim is the subject. Reads is the action or verb. A complete thought was expressed something was said, and the reader now knows that Jim likes to read.
Independent clauses can also be joined to other independent clauses, if the independent
clauses are related. However, they MUST be joined using the proper punctuation.

Jim read a book; he really enjoyed the book.

The first clause is an independent clause. Jim is the subject, read is the action, book is
the object.
The second clause is an independent clause. He is the subject, enjoyed is the action and
the book is the object.
The independent clauses are related, so they can be joined to create a complex sentence.
They are correctly joined by a semicolon.

Jim read a book, he really enjoyed the book.

Again, we have two independent clauses, but the independent clauses are not joined
properly. When two independent clauses are joined only be a comma, it is a
grammatical error called a comma splice.

Independent clauses can be quite complex, but the important thing to remember is that
they stand on their own and make sense alone.
For more examples of independent clauses, check out Examples of Independent

Dependent Clause Defined

A dependent clause is a clause that does not express a complete thought.
A clause can be dependent because of the presence of a:

Marker Word (Before, after, because, since, in order to, although, though,
whenever, wherever, whether, while, even though, even if)

Conjunction (And, or, nor, but, yet)

Dependent clauses MUST be joined to another clause, in order to avoid creating a

sentence fragment.

Because I forgot my homework.

This is a sentence fragment. We have a "because" but not a "why" or anything

accompanying and following what happened "because" they forgot.

Because I forgot my homework, I got sent home.

Here, the error is corrected. "I got sent home" is an independent clause. "I" is the
subject, "got" is the verb, "sent home" is the object. A complete thought is expressed.
Dependent clauses can become more complex if we add subjects, objects, and
modifying phrases:

Jim, who likes books, read a book.

Jim is the subject.

"Who likes to read" is a dependent clause that modifies Jim. It contains "likes" which is
a verb.
Read is a verb.
A book is the object.
Like independent clauses, a dependent clause can also be complex. The important thing
to remember is that the dependent clause does not stand on its own as a complete
For more examples of dependent clauses, check out Examples of Dependent Clauses.



Examples of Independent Clauses

An independent clause is a group of words with a subject and a predicate. It expresses a
complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence.

Independent Clause Examples

I enjoy sitting by the fireplace and reading.

Waiting to have my cars oil changed is boring.

She wants to travel the world and see wonderful sights.

Our planets revolve around the sun.

The professor always comes to class fully prepared.

Hurricanes strengthen over warm waters.

It is good to tackle the hardest chores first.

Meredith fixed the leaky faucet all by herself.

The soprano sang the aria perfectly.

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals.

Hiking and biking are my favorite summertime activities.

It is very important to brush your teeth twice a day.

We can hardly wait to see the movie.

This falls television line-up is lacking in diversity.

The brand new Italian restaurant is beautifully decorated.

There is a lot of apathy concerning the upcoming election.

Andrew decided to buy a sundae instead of a double-scoop cone.

Joan teaches science and algebra at the community college.

The squirrels are busy storing nuts for the winter.

I like to swim laps to stay in shape.

Peter and Elaine could not decide if they wanted to elope or have a big wedding.

The team persevered and finally broke the tie.

The Alps in Switzerland are breathtaking.

Examples of Independent Clauses Joined Together

Here are examples of two independent clauses together in one sentence joined by a
comma and/or a coordinating conjunction:

The beach is a lot of fun, but the mountains are even better.

All of us went to the movie, and we agreed it was enjoyable.

I went to the mall, but forgot to get socks.

He went to the park and the ride was broken.

I really wanted potato soup, but they only offered clam chowder and chicken

Today is Thursday and the test is Friday.

She not only bought two dresses but she got matching shoes.

I really want to see the game, but the store is having a huge sale.

She interviewed for three jobs, but she really wants to work here.

We all looked very tired, for we had stayed up all night cramming for the final.

Independent Clauses in Sentences with Semicolons

Here are examples of two independent clauses joined by a semicolon:

I went to the Department of Motor vehicles; I took the written test.

Monica brought the drinks; Frank brought the main dish.

This is one of my favorite books; Pride and Prejudice is another favorite.

My little brother refuses to go to bed early; he is afraid he will miss something.

The bridge is narrow; the river is wide.

He is going to the cabin; he intends to stay there all weekend.

During their hike, they noticed a storm moving in; they decided to turn back.

There was a strong wind at the beach; we managed to have a good time anyway.

I was very happy; I had pizza and ice cream.

Some authors prefer to use a word processor; others write using pen and paper.


Examples of Dependent Clauses

A dependent clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb. It does not express a
complete thought so it is not a sentence and cant stand alone. These clauses include
adverb clauses, adjective clauses and noun clauses.

Adverb Clauses
Adverb clauses modify verbs and begin with subordinating conjunctions. Here are
examples of dependent clauses that are adverb clauses:

When the president arrives

Because I cant wait for the bus

As if he knew what was going to happen

Than his sister can

If you can work on Sundays

Until the sun sets

While flowers continue to bloom

Whenever you come to visit

Since I dont have enough money

Although I had never considered it

Unless you have the right size

As the lights were dimming

No matter how you look at it

How he got elected

Before the food gets cold

Supposing that she really wanted to go

Adjective Clauses
Adjective clauses modify nouns and usually begin with a relative pronoun and
sometimes with a subordinating conjunction. Here are examples of dependent clauses
that are adjective clauses:

That I sold him

Which is located in Italy

Who is intelligent

Whom we met after the movie

Whose writing is always intriguing

When the leaves turn colors and fall

Where I went to elementary school

Why the movie was a flop

That was a bestseller

Who live by the ocean

Noun Clauses
Noun clauses name a person, place, thing or idea. Since it acts as a noun, it can be a
subject, object, a subject complement, an object complement or an appositive. Here are
examples of dependent clauses that are noun clauses:

Why she said that

Whomever you like

How they would get there

Who let the cat out of the bag

What she anticipated

Whatever makes you happy

That you are listening

Whether he can drive that far

If the dress is on sale

Whoever shows up on time

Dependent Clauses in Sentences

What the girl did was not very helpful.

He finally finished his novel, after months of research.

The trophy goes to whoever wins the race.

While I was asleep, the cat knocked over the plant.

A helium nucleus has two protons, whereas hydrogen has only one.

Where is the ice cream that was in the freezer?

After Mike sneezed all over the hamburger patties, no one wanted to eat.

The town where I was born is on the east coast.

I cant figure out why she said that.

We will do whatever is necessary.

The author, whom I met at the book signing, was very cordial.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

You may play outside until the street lights come on.

That cat that you found belongs to the Smiths.

Whenever I go to Greece, I will visit Santorini

Since no one else volunteered, the job is yours.

If you can give me two reasons, I will allow it.

Learn more about independent and dependent clauses here.