English Clauses

    Beginner+ English - Level A2


    This unit introduces dependent, independent, and relative clauses. The function of each type of clause and when to use them is examined here.



    The Convention Center and Riverwalk at night in Tampa, Florida.

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    English A2


    There are several types of clauses in English. The first distinction is between main ("independent") clauses and subordinate ("dependent") clauses. Main clauses can stand alone, but subordinate ones cannot. Here are a few examples:

    Main Clauses:
    We like to eat pizza.
    She is happy.

    With Subordinate Clauses:
    We like to eat pizza, even though it is not that healthy.
    She is happy, despite her high-stress job.

    Subordinate clauses begin with a subordinating conjunction. These include: after, although, because, before, even if, if, once, only, since, so, that, though, unless, until, when, where, and while, among others. If the subordinate clause comes first in a sentence, a comma is comes at the end of it, right before the main clause. If it comes second, a comma comes at the end of the main clause before the subordinating conjunction.

    Another type of clause is the relative clause. Relative clauses are used to give additional information about a noun or pronoun in a preceding main clause. Relative pronouns serve as stand-ins for the noun or pronoun being referred to (also known as the  antecedent).

    That is the same dog that I saw yesterday
    Santa Fe is the city in which I live.
    There is the reporter with whom I spoke earlier.

    Clauses also have three different functions. They can be noun, adjective, or adverbial clauses, and can be replaced by that part of speech.

    He knew what everyone was talking about. (noun clause; replace with: the latest buzz)
    Bob jumped over the log without tripping over it. (adverb clause; replace with: carefully)
    One of my cousins who is really adventurous climbed Denali in Alaska. (adjective clause; replace with: my cousin).

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