Are you familiar with subordinate clauses? A subordinate clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb, but it cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. Instead, it depends on the main clause to make sense. Subordinate clauses are also known as dependent clauses, and they play an important role in sentence structure.
Subordinate clauses can be introduced by subordinating conjunctions such as “although”, “because”, “when”, and “while”. These conjunctions signal that the clause is dependent on the main clause. Subordinate clauses can function as adjectives, adverbs, or nouns, and they can add depth and complexity to your writing. Understanding how to use subordinate clauses correctly can help you to create more sophisticated sentences and convey your ideas more effectively.
Understanding Subordinate Clauses
If you want to improve your writing skills, it’s essential to understand what a subordinate clause is. A subordinate clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb but cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. It depends on the main clause to make sense. Here are a few things you need to know about subordinate clauses:
How to Identify Subordinate Clauses
Subordinate clauses can be identified by the presence of a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun. These words signal that the clause is subordinate to the main clause. Some examples of subordinating conjunctions are “because,” “although,” “while,” and “since.” Relative pronouns include “who,” “whom,” “whose,” “which,” and “that.”
Types of Subordinate Clauses
There are several types of subordinate clauses, including noun clauses, adjective clauses, and adverbial clauses. Noun clauses act as the subject or object of the main clause. Adjective clauses modify a noun or pronoun in the main clause. Adverbial clauses modify the verb in the main clause, providing information about time, place, reason, or condition.
Punctuating Subordinate Clauses
When a subordinate clause comes at the beginning of a sentence, it should be followed by a comma. However, if it comes at the end of the sentence, there is no need for a comma. If the subordinate clause interrupts the main clause, it should be set off by commas.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
One common mistake people make with subordinate clauses is using them incorrectly. Remember that a subordinate clause cannot stand alone as a sentence. It must be connected to a main clause to make sense. Another mistake is using a comma instead of a semicolon to connect two independent clauses. A comma is not strong enough to separate two complete thoughts.
Understanding subordinate clauses is essential for improving your writing skills. By mastering the different types of subordinate clauses, you’ll be able to write more complex and interesting sentences. Just remember to use them correctly and avoid common mistakes.
Types of Subordinate Clauses
Subordinate clauses can be categorized into three types: Adverbial, Adjectival, and Noun Subordinate Clauses.
Adverbial Subordinate Clauses
Adverbial Subordinate Clauses modify the verb in the main clause and answer questions such as when, where, why, and how the action in the main clause happened. They usually begin with subordinating conjunctions such as after, although, as, as if, as long as, as soon as, as though, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order that, provided that, since, so that, than, that, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, wherever, whether, while.
- After the movie ended, we went to a restaurant.
- Although he was tired, he went to the gym.
- Because it was raining, we stayed at home.
Adjectival Subordinate Clauses
Adjectival Subordinate Clauses modify the noun or pronoun in the main clause and provide additional information about it. They usually begin with relative pronouns such as who, whom, whose, which, and that.
- The book that you recommended is excellent.
- The person who won the race was very fast.
- The car, which is parked outside, is mine.
Noun Subordinate Clauses
Noun Subordinate Clauses function as a noun in the main clause and can act as the subject, object, or complement of the sentence. They usually begin with subordinating conjunctions such as that, whether, if, how, why, what, when, where.
- What you said is not true.
- I don’t know when he will arrive.
- She is worried about how she will pay the bills.
In summary, understanding the different types of subordinate clauses can help you to write clear and concise sentences. By using them correctly, you can add variety and complexity to your writing.
Features of Subordinate Clauses
Subordinate clauses are an essential component of English grammar, and they play a crucial role in sentence structure. Here are some features of subordinate clauses that you should keep in mind:
1. Dependent on Main Clause: Subordinate clauses are dependent clauses that cannot stand alone as complete sentences. They require a main clause to make sense. A subordinate clause usually acts as a modifier, providing additional information to the main clause.
2. Contains a Subject and a Verb: A subordinate clause contains a subject and a verb, just like a main clause. However, unlike a main clause, it cannot function as a complete sentence.
3. Introduced by a Subordinating Conjunction: A subordinate clause is introduced by a subordinating conjunction, which connects the subordinate clause to the main clause. Some common subordinating conjunctions include ‘because,’ ‘although,’ ‘if,’ ‘unless,’ ‘while,’ ‘as,’ and ‘since.’
4. Can Function as Nouns, Adjectives, or Adverbs: Subordinate clauses can function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs in a sentence. When a subordinate clause functions as a noun, it is known as a noun clause. Similarly, when it functions as an adjective, it is known as an adjective clause, and when it functions as an adverb, it is known as an adverbial clause.
5. Can Be Placed at the Beginning, Middle, or End of a Sentence: Subordinate clauses can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, depending on the intended meaning. When a subordinate clause is placed at the beginning of a sentence, it is usually followed by a comma.
6. Can Be Omitted: In some cases, a subordinate clause can be omitted from a sentence without changing the meaning of the main clause. This is known as ellipsis, and it is often used to avoid repetition or to make a sentence more concise.
In summary, subordinate clauses are an important part of English grammar, and they add depth and complexity to sentences. By understanding the features of subordinate clauses, you can use them effectively in your writing to create more varied and interesting sentences.
Role of Subordinate Clauses in Sentences
Subordinate clauses play an essential role in sentences. They are dependent clauses that cannot stand alone as complete sentences but instead complement the main clause, adding to the meaning of the sentence. Here are a few ways subordinate clauses contribute to sentence structure and meaning:
1. Providing Additional Information
Subordinate clauses can provide additional information about the subject, verb, or object of the main clause. For example, “While I was walking my dog, I saw a shooting star.” The subordinate clause “while I was walking my dog” provides additional information about the speaker’s activity at the time they saw the shooting star.
2. Expressing Time, Place, or Condition
Subordinate clauses can express time, place, or condition, providing context for the main clause. For example, “If it rains tomorrow, we’ll stay indoors.” The subordinate clause “if it rains tomorrow” expresses a condition that must be met for the main clause to happen.
3. Creating Complex Sentences
Subordinate clauses allow writers to create complex sentences, which can add variety and depth to writing. A complex sentence contains one independent clause and one or more subordinate clauses. For example, “Although she was tired, she continued to work on her project because she wanted to finish it before the deadline.” The subordinate clause “although she was tired” provides additional information about the subject, and the second subordinate clause “because she wanted to finish it before the deadline” expresses the reason for her actions.
In conclusion, subordinate clauses are essential components of sentence structure and meaning. They provide additional information, express time, place, or condition, and allow writers to create complex sentences. By understanding the role of subordinate clauses, you can improve your writing clarity and create more engaging and varied sentences.
Identifying Subordinate Clauses
When it comes to identifying subordinate clauses, there are a few simple rules that you can follow. A subordinate clause is a clause that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence and relies on a main clause to make sense. Here are a few tips to help you identify subordinate clauses:
- Look for a subject and verb: A subordinate clause will always have a subject and a verb, but it won’t be able to stand alone as a complete sentence.
- Check for subordinating conjunctions: Subordinating conjunctions are words that are used to connect subordinate clauses to main clauses. Some common subordinating conjunctions include “although,” “because,” “if,” “since,” and “when.”
- Look for dependent markers: Dependent markers are words that signal that a clause is subordinate. These include words like “that,” “which,” and “who.”
Once you’ve identified a subordinate clause, it’s important to understand how it functions within a sentence. Subordinate clauses can act as adjectives, adverbs, or nouns. Here are a few examples:
- Adjective: The book that you recommended was excellent.
- Adverb: After the storm passed, we went outside to assess the damage.
- Noun: Whether you like it or not, we’re going to have to work together on this project.
By understanding how subordinate clauses function within a sentence, you can better understand the meaning and structure of the sentence as a whole.
Common Errors with Subordinate Clauses
Subordinate clauses are an essential part of English grammar, but they can be tricky to master. Here are some common errors to avoid when using subordinate clauses.
Error 1: Fragmented Sentences
A subordinate clause cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. It must be connected to a main clause to form a complete sentence. If you use a subordinate clause by itself, you create a sentence fragment. For example:
Incorrect: Although I studied hard for the test.
Correct: Although I studied hard for the test, I still failed.
Error 2: Misplaced or Dangling Modifiers
A misplaced modifier is a word or phrase that is not placed next to the word it modifies. This can cause confusion and change the meaning of the sentence. For example:
Incorrect: Walking to the store, the rain started to pour.
Correct: Walking to the store, I got caught in the rain.
A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that does not have a clear subject to modify. This can also cause confusion and change the meaning of the sentence. For example:
Incorrect: After finishing the book, the TV was turned on.
Correct: After finishing the book, I turned on the TV.
Error 3: Incorrect Use of Subordinating Conjunctions
Subordinating conjunctions are used to introduce subordinate clauses. It is important to use the correct subordinating conjunction for the meaning you want to convey. For example:
Incorrect: I will go to the store, unless it is raining.
Correct: I will go to the store, if it is not raining.
Error 4: Run-on Sentences
A run-on sentence occurs when two or more independent clauses are joined without proper punctuation. This can be confusing and difficult to read. For example:
Incorrect: I went to the store I bought some milk.
Correct: I went to the store, and I bought some milk.
By avoiding these common errors, you can improve your use of subordinate clauses and create clear, effective sentences.
Practice and Application of Subordinate Clauses
Now that you have a good understanding of what subordinate clauses are and how they function, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice. Here are some tips and examples to help you use subordinate clauses effectively in your writing:
- Use subordinate clauses to add detail and complexity to your sentences. By adding a dependent clause, you can provide more information about the subject or action of the sentence, or you can show the relationship between two ideas.
- Be careful not to overuse subordinate clauses. While they can add depth to your writing, too many dependent clauses can make your sentences difficult to read and understand.
- Use a comma to separate the subordinate clause from the main clause. This helps to clarify the structure of the sentence and make it easier to read.
- Experiment with different types of subordinate clauses. Try using adverbial clauses to show time, cause and effect, or condition, or use adjective clauses to add more detail to a noun.
Here are a few examples of how you can use subordinate clauses in your writing:
- Although she was tired, she stayed up late to finish her homework.
- Because he forgot his keys, he had to climb through the window to get into his apartment.
- The book, which was written by a famous author, has been on the bestseller list for weeks.
- After he finished his dinner, he went for a walk around the park.
By incorporating subordinate clauses into your writing, you can add depth and complexity to your sentences, making your writing more interesting and engaging to read.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some common words that start a subordinate clause?
Subordinate clauses usually begin with subordinating conjunctions such as “if,” “when,” “because,” “although,” “since,” “while,” and “where.” These words are used to connect the subordinate clause to the main clause of the sentence.
How do you identify a subordinate clause in a sentence?
A subordinate clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb but does not express a complete thought. It is dependent on the main clause to form a complete sentence. To identify a subordinate clause, look for a group of words that begins with a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun.
What is the function of a subordinate clause?
The function of a subordinate clause is to add information to the main clause of a sentence. It can provide additional details, describe a condition, express a reason, or show a contrast. Subordinate clauses help to create more complex and interesting sentences.
Can you give me 5 examples of subordinate clauses?
- Although I was tired, I stayed up late to finish my homework.
- When the rain stopped, we went outside to play.
- If you need any help, just let me know.
- Because she studied hard, she passed the exam.
- While I was walking in the park, I saw a beautiful bird.
What are the rules for using subordinate clauses?
When using subordinate clauses, it is important to make sure that they are correctly connected to the main clause of the sentence. Subordinate clauses should be introduced by a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun. They should be placed close to the word or phrase they modify, and the verb tense should be consistent throughout the sentence.