Independent Clause

An independent clause is simply a sentence. It can be as short as “Jill ran.” Which contains only a subject and a verb or be much more complex.

Example: Jill ran down the hill with a pail of water.

Dependent Clause

A dependent clause contains a subject and a verb but not a complete thought. Because it is not a complete thought, a dependent clause on its own is commonly known as a sentence fragment.

Example: As Jill ran down the hill with a pail of water.

This is a dependent, sentence fragment, because nothing tells you what happened to Jill.

Dependent clauses are usually set off by what is known as a dependent clause marker, a word that sets off the clause as being dependent. Some common dependent clause markers are: after, although, as, as if, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order to, since, though, unless, until, whatever, when, whenever, whether, and while.

Example: Jill fell as she ran down the hill with a pail of water.

Creating a Connection between an Independent and Dependent Clause

The most basic method for joining an independent and dependent clause is to use a comma and a coordinating conjunction. Coordinating conjunctions are: and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet.

Example: Jill went up the hill, and she and her pail of water fell back down.

Exercise: Join these two sentences with a coordinating conjunction:
James left a mess at his desk after he left work. Sarah had to clean James’ mess up.

Subordinate Clauses

Subordinate clauses are used to add information that gives further meaning to an existing independent clause. The list of subordinating conjunctions below are all familiar words that you have used before.

after while if
as where even though
as if because even it
as soon as before provided that
since whereas unless
until so that once
when in order that rather than
whenever although

Relative Clauses

A relative clause is a type of dependent clause that serves to modify what is said in the independent clause. In a sentence with a relative clause, the subject of the independent clause that is modified is called an antecedent.

Example: The raffle winner, who lives in Boston, won a $105,000 prize.