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GRAMMATICAL UNTS

Clause
It’s a group of words that includes a subject and a verb. A clause can be
distinguished from a phrase, because phrases don’t contain both a subject and a verb
(in the afternoon, drinking from the bowl, etc.). There are 2 main types of clauses:

1. Independent clause: also called main clause, can express a complete


thought (and can stand alone as a sentence). For example:
I like chocolate.
2. Dependent clause: also called subordinate clause, is usually a supporting
part of a sentence, and it cannot stand by itself as a meaningful proposition
(idea). For example: When I was 10 years old… These clauses help the
independent clauses complete the sentence. You can recognize them
because they start with a subordinate conjunction, which is a word that
joins ideas together and shows the relationship between them (because,
although, where, after, etc.). There are three types of dependent clauses:
a. Relative clause: also called adjective clause, is the one that further
describes the noun, but keep in mind that this is not a complete
thought. You can identify them by looking for three main components:
- It will contain a subject and a verb.
- It will begin with a relative pronoun (who, whom, whose, that and
which) or relative adverb (when, where or why). For example:
“When we go to the movies, we always buy popcorn”, “when” is
the relative pronoun, “we” is the subject and “go” is the verb.
- It will answer questions about the noun, such as: “Which one?”
“What kind?” “How many?” For example: “Those are the two
children who walked out of the store”, “who” is the subject and
“walked” is the verb.
Punctuating these clauses can be tricky. You must recognize if it’s
essential or nonessential and then use commas accordingly.

- Essential relative clauses, also called restrictive clauses, don’t


require commas. A relative clause is essential when you need the
information it provides. For example:
A dog that eats too much pizza will soon develop pepperoni breath.
“Dog” is nonspecific. To know which dog we are talking about, we
must have the information in the relative clause.
- Nonessential clauses or non-restrictive clauses are the ones which
can be safely removed without wrecking the sentence, they just
add additional information, and therefore, they need to be
separated by commas. For example:
My dog Floyd, who eats too much pizza, has developed pepperoni
breath.
b. Noun clause: it’s a dependent clause that acts as a noun. It serves the
same function as one; it can be a subject, an object, or complement.
Like the relative clause, it usually begins with a relative pronoun.
However, it can also begin with a subordinate conjunction. For
example:
You really don’t want to know the ingredients in Aunt Nancy’s stew.
You really don’t want to know what Aunt Nancy adds to her stew.
c. Adverbial clause: it’s a dependent clause that acts as an adverb. It
usually starts with a subordinate conjunction (although, because, if,
until, when, etc.). For example:
After the game has finished, the king and the pawn go into the same
box.
Sentence
A sentence is a unit of grammar which must contain at least one main clause.
Sentences can be classified on the basis of their syntactic properties. We distinguish
declarative, interrogative, imperative and exclamatory sentences.

1. Declarative Sentences
These are the most straightforward sentence type. They state a fact and
end with a period.
I live here.
My sister doesn’t like chocolate.
2. Interrogative Sentences
These sentences are used to ask questions, and they end with a question
mark. For instance:
Do you agree? (Yes/no interrogatives).
What did you eat? (Open interrogatives or Wh-interrogatives).
3. Imperative Sentences
An imperative sentence is a command or a polite request. It ends with an
exclamation mark or a period.
Go home!
Be careful.
4. Exclamatory Sentences
An exclamatory sentence expresses excitement or emotion. It ends with an
exclamation mark. For example:
What an extraordinary lecturer you are!
What a book he bought!

According to their structure, sentences can also be classified in:

1. Simple Sentences: the ones formed by only one clause (main clause). For
example:
My aunt likes books.
You haven’t closed the door.
2. Compound Sentences: these sentences have two or more main clauses,
joined by a coordinate conjunction (and, but, or). For instance:
I phoned her but she wasn’t there.
Are you coming or are you staying home?
3. Complex Sentences: have a main clause and one or more subordinate
clauses, introduced by a subordinate conjunction. For example:
You can call me if you have any problems.
I got up earlier than usual because I had to get the 6:30 train.
4. Compound-Complex Sentences: they have at least two main clauses and at
least one dependent clause. For example:
When a dog bites a man, that is not news because it happens so often, but
if a man bites a dog, that is news.
When a dog bites a man: adverbial clause (of time).
That is not news: main clause number 1.
Because it happens so often: adverbial clause (of reason).
That is news: main clause number 2.
If a man bites a dog: adverbial clause (of condition).