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The Clause

The Clause, A clause is a group of words that consists of a subject and a predicate forming part of a sentence or standing alone as a simple sentence. The subject of a clause is the word or group of words performing the action of the verb, or about which something is stated.

The predicate, on the other hand, is the part of a clause that contains the verb and states something about the subject.  For example, in the clause: Jerry bought a new smartphone, the subject is ‘Jerry,’ while the predicate is ‘bought a new smartphone.’

A clause contains a finite verb which differentiates it from a phrase.

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Types of Clauses

There are two major types of clauses, namely independent (or main) and dependent (or subordinate) clauses.

(a) The Independent Clause

This is a clause that expresses a complete thought whether it is used alone or located in a sentence. It is also known as the main or principal clause.


  • Teri broke the glass.
  • Merit travels to Spain quite often.

Each of the above examples makes a complete thought as an independent or a main clause. They are, therefore, similar to the simple sentence.

(b) The Dependent Clause

This is a clause that does not express a complete thought unless it is attached to the main clause. It is usually introduced by a subordinating conjunction (e.g. because, when), which functions as the clause marker.


  • Because there was no money
  • When we arrived in Washington

The above clauses do not make full sense standing alone; they need independent clauses to become sensible:

(i)    Regis couldn’t buy the recommended books because there was no money.

(ii)    We met the President at the White House when we arrived in Washington.

These are complex sentences, each consisting of an independent and a dependent clause.

Types of Dependent Clauses

The types of dependent clauses are:

(a)    Adverbial Clauses

(b)    Adjectival Clauses

(c)    Noun Clauses

(a)  Adverbial Clauses

These are clauses that modify verbs or verb phrases in the main clauses of their given sentences. In other words, they function as adverbs in their sentences.


(i)    Nelson was not permitted to go home when his mother had an accident.

(ii)    If the pet dies, you will be severely punished.

The highlighted clauses in ‘I’ and ‘ii’ above modify the verb phrases, ‘was permitted’ and ‘will be punished’ respectively.

(b) Adjectival Clauses


These are clauses that describe their antecedent nouns or pronouns.


(i)    This is the man who supplies the sports kit.

(ii)    The building which collapsed last night was quite old.

The highlighted clauses in ‘I’ and ‘ii’ above describe the antecedent nouns ‘the man’ and ‘The building’ respectively.

(c) Noun Clauses

These are clauses that function as nouns in sentences.


  • What I hate is procrastination.
  • Jane knew that she was to blame.

The highlighted clauses in ‘I’ and ‘ii’ above function as subject and object of their sentences respectively, just as single nouns would function.

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