Clauses and their functions - English Grammar

Clauses are the building blocks of sentences. A clause is a group of words that contains ( at least) a subject and a verb

Example of Clauses:
Ecology is a science because pollution cause cancer

Example of not clauses:
To protect the environment after working all day

Types of clause

Independent clauses: An independent clause contains a subject and a verb and expresses complete through. It can stand alone as a sentence by it elf, an independent clause id formed with

Subject + Verb (+ Complement)
Example: Jet lag affects most long distance travellers

Dependent clauses: A Dependent Clause begins with subordinators such as when while, if, that, or who. A dependent clause does not express a complete thought and cannot stand alone as a sentence by itself, an Dependent clause formed with

Subordinator + subject + verb (+Complement)
Example: Although there is no sure way to prevent jet lag.


Clause Connectors

Groups of word are used to connect in order to form different kinds of sentence.

Coordinate Clauses
The simplest sentences may contain a single clause. (Simple is a standard description of one kind of sentence.) Where a sentence contains more than one clause, these may be considered of equal grammatical importance. If this is so, these are coordinate clauses. They are joined by a coordinating conjunction, such as and, or or but.(Some grammarians call the first clause of the sentence the main clause, and the others coordinate clauses).

Here are some examples:

  • You can travel by tube, you can drive or you can take the train.
  • Lucy opened her window and in came Count Dracula.

Subordinate Clauses:
Sometimes the clauses are placed in a hierarchy: the more important ones are main clauses, while the less important are subordinate clauses. A main or coordinate clause could stand on its own as a sentence, but a subordinate clause works only within a sentence. A subordinate clause can do the job of other clause elements. It can work as subject, object, complement and adverbial, as in these examples:

  • Subordinate subject clause: What you say is stupid.
  • Subordinate object clause: I did not know that you were here.
  • Subordinate complement clause: Your first job is learning this grammar.
  • Subordinate adverbial clause: Come round when you're ready.

Clauses that function as subject, object or complement replace noun phrases, so they are called nominal clauses. Those that function as adverbs/adjectives are adverbial/adjectival clauses.
Some other kinds of nominal clauses are shown below. For clarity, they are all shown in object position. This is not the only place where they may occur, but is the most common.

  • That clause: I think (that) you know each other. (That may be omitted if understood.)
  • Wh- clause: I know what you did last summer. (Clause introduced by who, when, what, why, whether.)
  • -ing clause: I don't recall seeing her there. (Clause introduced by present participle.)
  • inf. clause: I wish to confess to my crimes. (Clause introduced by to + infinitive.)

Adverbial Clauses:
These are introduced by a subordinating conjunction, which explains the adverbial meaning of the clause. These include when/before/after/while (time); because/since (reason); if/unless/lest (condition),etc., as in these examples:

  • When the bell sounds, you may leave the room.
  • We cannot send you the goods because we are out of stock.
  • Unless you are good, Father Christmas will bring you nothing.

Two minor types of adverbial clause are inf. and -ing clauses.

  • Inf. clause: I went to the shop to buy some presents. (Clause introduced by to + infinitive.)
  • -ing clause: Jane broke her arm while fighting. (Clause introduced by present participle.)

Adjectival Clauses:
A familiar type is the relative clause, introduced by a relative pronoun (who, whom, whose, that, which), as in
these examples:

  • Here is the woman (whom) I married.
  • This is the book (which) I am reading.
  • The drink (that) I most like is orange-juice.

Two minor types of adjectival clause are -ing and -ed clauses.

  • -ing clause: The train now standing at platform four is the 5.30 to Leeds.
    -ed clause: She is the celebrity pursued by the press.

Since past participles do not all end in -ed we may find other verb forms in such clauses: The tea drunk by the
students or the exam taken by the pupils.

Notes: Punctuation marking
With noun clauses, no commas are used.
Adjective restrictive clauses are not separated by commas, but with adjective descriptive clauses commas are used.
Adverb clauses that come before the independent clause are followed by a comma, but if they come after the independent clause, no comma is used.


Types of Sentences

Sentences have two essential parts: complete subject and predicate. They have various patterns. In English there are five forms of sentences:

Simple Sentences: one independent clause
The children are playing outdoors.

Compound Sentences: two or more independent clauses
The children are playing outdoors, and their parents are playing Scrabble indoors.

Complex Sentences: one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses
The children are playing outdoors while their parents are playing Scrabble indoors.

Compound-Complex Sentences:two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses
The children are playing outdoors because the weather is nice, but their parents are playing Scrabble indoors.

Complex-Complex Sentences: one or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause which contains an imbedded dependent clause
The children, who are playing outdoors because the weather is nice, are happy

Sentences can also be analyzed according to usage (declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory).
Examples of sentences: Rain is falling. (declarative)
Does Henry live here? (interrogative)
Open the window. (imperative)
What a noise you made! (exclamatory)

Clauses and their functions Video Lecture


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