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Dependent Clause: What is it and how to use it?

UserMark time24 February,2022

The dependent clause falls in the class of advanced grammar learning. Why? Because identifying a dependent clause can be challenging for many students, especially the novice.

The basic that differentiates a dependent clause from an independent clause is its meaning- it does not have any purpose. Dependent clauses are just fragments. If you leave dependent clauses hanging in your writing, the reader will get confused. It is more like a wireless headphone that is utterly useless unless you connect them to a source. 

And in the case of dependent clauses, they are connected to independent clauses (source) to make them valuable or understandable. 

Therefore, in this blog, we will expand the definition of the dependent clause, tips for using it, and examples. Read on to know them. 

Dependent clause definition

A dependent clause is a group of words that does not express a complete thought. However, like all other clauses, it comprises a subject and a verb. A dependent clause cannot be a sentence. Often a dependent clause is marked by a dependent marker word. 

A dependent marker word is a word added to the beginning of an independent clause that forms it into a dependent clause.

What is a dependent clause

A dependent clause, also known as a subordinate clause, is a clause that cannot express any meaning when used alone. However, when used with another set of words, it adequately describes a sense. 

A dependent clause is just a part of an entire sentence, comprising a few words. A sentence that cannot stand alone as a significant sentence is thus, defined as a dependent clause. 

Like all clauses, a dependent clause also has a verb and a subject. 

Why should you care about the usage of the dependent clause?

So, here we will state two main reasons related to dependent clauses.

Problem 1: Whether to use a comma with a dependent clause

Here are the rules:

  • Rule 1- The dependent clause must be offset with a comma with a fronted verb. A dependent clause starting with subordinating conjunction will operate as an adverb. When the dependent clause is framed at the start of the sentence, offset the clause with a comma. And if the clause is present at the end of the sentence, refrain from using the comma. Look below for the examples,

Use of comma- When the eggs have a consistency of shaving foam, stop whipping and ass the vanilla essence.

Comma not used- Stop whipping and add the vanilla essence when the eggs have the consistency of shaving foam.

  • Rule 2- If the clause is a nonessential adjective, offset the dependent clause with a comma. A dependent clause starting with a relative pronoun will operate as an adjective. It would help if you refrained from using a comma before the relative pronoun. But if the clause is just additional information, you can use a comma.

Use of comma- My aunty Sally, who resides in Australia, was bitten by a rat.

Comma not used- My auntie, who resides in Australia was bitten by a rat.

Problem 2: Starting a declarative sentence with ‘Which’

You must never start a declarative sentence with ‘which’ or ‘which’. But, of course, who or which can be used while writing an interrogative sentence. 

Do not write a sentence as it is written below:

I hate mowing the grass, which is not good because I have a vast lawn. 

Dependent clause examples

As discussed earlier in this blog, the dependent clause is a collection of words with a verb and a subject. It does not necessarily express an entire thought, so it is not a complete sentence. Also, it cannot stand alone. It depends on another set of words to be adequately expressed. 

In this blog section, we will discuss several types of clauses. These clauses include noun clauses, adverb clauses, and adjective clauses. 

So, let’s dive straight in!

Noun clauses

Clauses that name a person, idea, place, or thing are called noun clauses. Since it plays its part as a noun, it can be a subject complement, subject, object complement, an object, or an appositive. Here are a few examples of dependent clauses that are also noun clauses.

  • Whomever you like
  • Who let the small cat out of the basket
  • Whatever makes you delighted
  • Whether he can drive the car that far
  • Why she says that
  • How they would get to that place
  • What she expected
  • That you are listening
  • If the dress is on sale

Adverb clauses

Clauses that change any form of the verb and start with subordinating conjunctions are adverb clauses. Here are a few examples of dependent clauses that are also adverb clauses:

  • Because I cannot wait for the taxi
  • Than his sister can
  • Until the sun sets
  • Whenever you come to visit
  • Although I had never regarded it
  • As the lights were dimming
  • How he got elected
  • Supposing that he wanted to go
  • When the chief minister arrives
  • As if she knew who was going to come
  • If you work on Saturdays
  • While flowers continue to bloom
  • Since I do not have enough money
  • Unless you have the correct size
  • No matter how you look at it
  • Before the house gets old

Adjective clauses

Clauses that restructure nouns and commonly begin sometimes with a subordinating conjunction and relative pronoun as adjective clauses are adjective clauses. Here are a few examples of dependent clauses that are also adjective clauses:

  • That I sold him
  • Who is intelligent
  • Whose writing is intriguing
  • Where I went to elementary school
  • That was a bestseller
  • Which is located in Italy
  • Whom we met after the movie
  • When he leaves, turn colors and fall
  • Why the film was a flop
  • Who live by the ocean

Dependent clauses in sentences: 

  • What the girl did was not helpful.
  • The trophy goes to whoever comes first in the race.
  • A helium nucleus comprises two protons, whereas hydrogen includes only one.
  • After Mike sneezed all over the hamburger patties, everyone refused to eat.
  • I cannot figure out why she said that.
  • The author, whom I met at the book signing, was very cordial.
  • He finally completed his novel after several months of research.
  • While I was asleep, the dog knocked over the plant.
  • Where is the ice cream that was in the refrigerator?
  • The town where I was born is on the east coast.
  • We will do whatever is necessary.
  • Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

Independent VS Dependent clause

Independent clause: A clause with a subject and a verb that expresses a complete idea is known as an independent clause. An independent clause can stand alone.

Example of an independent clause: Tony jumped the fence.

Dependent clause: A clause with a subject and a verb but do not express a complete idea is dependent. A dependent clause cannot stand alone because it needs a group of others to be defined completely.

Example of a dependent clause: Although Tony jumped the fence,

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If you think you have a problem understanding how or when to use a dependent clause, you can resort to our online tutors. 

Our expert tutors will make you understand what a dependent clause is with real-life examples. They will also forward online guides comprising step-by-step processes of understanding and implementing a dependent clause. 

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