Understanding the English language without knowing what clauses are is difficult. They are what make or break a sentence. Therefore, we simply cannot put an end to our Elementary Grammar series lessons without studying this concept. In the previous lesson, we took a look at the concept of phrases. Like we mentioned in that lesson too, people often confuse between phrases and clauses. To understand, the difference between the two, check out the lesson by clicking here.
In this lesson, we will take a detailed look at this concept of elementary grammar, understand its usage and types with examples. Surely, you will find this article helpful to learn and share with fellow learners.
When a group of words forms a sentence, which means, they have a subject and a predicate, we call it a clause. It will necessarily have a subject and a verb. For example, He told me to read this story. In this sentence, He told me is the subject, and to read the story is the predicate.
There are two main types of clauses, Principal/Main, Subordinate/Dependent and Co-ordinate.
1. Principle/Main- I do not know what he is doing. The group of words I do not know convey meaning and share some information. They may or may not stand alone, meaning, may or may not require the support of another sentence. Such sentences are main clauses.
2. Subordinate/ Dependent- When a group of words put together do not make any sense and are dependent on another part of the sentence to attain meaning are dependent clauses. For example, Maria said that she would definitely come. The words in italics here present an incomplete meaning until joined with the words Maria said.
3. Co-ordinate- These sentences make use of co-ordinating conjunctions to join two clauses. They do not require dependence on another sennce and make complete sense. For example, Joy helped me but Tonny cheated me. In this sentence, the word but is the co-ordinating conjunction joining two sentences that stand on their own.
In the above section, we got a basic idea about clauses and their types. But there is more to this concept than just that. The Subordinate kind is also further divided into more types. There is a lot to understand in the next section. But as always, we will break it down and make the concept simpler to comprehend.
Types of Subordinate Clauses
The Subordinate type is further divided into:
- Noun Clauses
- Adjective Clauses
- Adverb Clauses
What are Noun Clauses?
The explanation is simple- the group of words that replace the noun is those which fall in this category. For example, Becky denied that he had done it. Clearly, the words that he had done it replaces the word “something,” which is the object of the sentence. On the other hand, What you have done is a sin. These italic words what you have done play the role of the subject/. Both of these sentences explain this category.
A Noun clause could function as the subject of a verb, the object of a verb, the object of a preposition, complement of a verb, or apposition to a noun/pronoun. We saw two examples of the first two functions in the paragraph above. Let us take a look at one example each:
- The subject of a verb- What you did is not my concern.
- The object of a Verb- Why he could not attend the conference is a surprise.
- The object of a Preposition- The gift consists of what you cannot guess.
- The complement of a Verb- My prayer is that success should come to all.
- In Apposition to a Noun or a Pronoun- It is not certain that my father will come.
What are Adjective Clauses?
Similar to the above, this is the kind of clause that acts as an adjective- which is to add more description to a noun or pronoun. These usually begin with words like who, which, that, etc., i.e. the subordinator words. For example, The boy who is in the red jacket is my cousin. The words in italics add more information to the noun, which is the boy.
Furthermore, these are further divided into Restrictive (Defining) or Non-restrictive (non-defining). The group of words that seem essential to the sentence are defining, and those without which a sentence can do are non-defining. We shall take a look at an example of each.
- Defining- I know the place where Akbar was born.
- Non- defining- Jackson, whom you know very well, will speak to you about this matter.
Now try removing the words in italics from the above sentences, and you will see the first sentence contains essential facts, while the second one does not.
What are Adverb Clauses?
Those clauses which qualify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs fall in this type- basically, they perform the duty of an adverb in the actual sense. For example, Samuel came when the meeting was over. It informs us about the time when Samuel came, hence acting as the adverb.
Much like the concept of adverbs, these clauses are also further divided into the adverb clause of time, place, cause & effect, condition, purpose, comparison, consequence, and supposition. Although, that is a topic we should keep for another time because we don’t want to make this lesson too lengthy to follow.
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