Independent and dependent clauses are fundamental parts of writing. But what are these clauses? How do they differ? And how do you use them? In this post, we look the basics of independent and dependent clauses.\nWhat Is a Clause?\nA \u201cclause\u201d is a group of words that contains a subject and a predicate. This could be a sentence, part of a sentence, or even a sentence fragment.\n\nEvery sentence will include at least one clause, but you can also combine independent and dependent clauses. We will look at how this works below.\nIndependent Clauses\nAn independent clause is also known as a \u201cmain clause.\u201d A clause is independent if it works as a sentence by itself. We can make an independent clause with just a noun and a verb:\n\n\n\nNoun (Subject)\nVerb (Predicate)\n\n\nDogs\u2026\n\u2026bark.\n\n\n\nHere, we have a noun (dogs) as the subject of the clause and a verb (bark) as the predicate. And this works as a standalone sentence because it expresses a complete thought (the thought of dogs barking).\n\nWe can also combine two (or more) independent clauses in a single sentence. To do this, we would use a coordinating conjunction between the clauses:\n\n\n\nClause 1\nConjunction\nClause 2\n\n\nDogs bark\u2026\n\u2026and\u2026\n\u2026cats meow.\n\n\n\nHere, then, we have multiple independent clauses in one sentence. But these clauses are still \u201cindependent\u201d because we could write either one by itself:\nDogs bark. Cats meow.\n\nDependent Clauses\nA dependent clause, also known as a \u201csubordinate clause,\u201d adds extra information to a sentence. It cannot, however, work as a sentence by itself. Take the following complex sentence, for example:\n\n\n\n\nIndependent Clause\n\n\nDependent Clause\n\n\n\n\nMy dog barks\u2026\n\n\n\u2026when he sees a cat.\n\n\n\n\nThe second clause above is \u201csubordinate\u201d because it \u201cdepends\u201d on the main clause to make sense. We can see this if we write each clause separately:\nIndependent Clause: My dog barks. \u2713\nDependent Clause: When he sees a cat. \u2717\nIn other words, \u201cwhen he sees a cat\u201d does not make sense by itself. But as part of a sentence, it tells us something about the main clause. All dependent clauses add information like this, but they can function in different ways:\n\n \tAdverbial clauses tell us something about how a main clause occurs. For example, \u201cwhen he sees a cat\u201d tells us something about the situation in which \u201cmy dog\u201d barks.\n \tAdjectival clauses modify a noun or noun phrase in a sentence. For instance, we could say \u201cDogs that bark at cats should be kept indoors.\u201d In this sentence, \u201cthat bark at cats\u201d is an adjectival clause because it tells us what type of dog the sentence is about.\n \tNominal clauses (or noun clauses) function like a noun. For instance, we could say, \u201cMy dog goes wherever I go.\u201d The nominal clause here is \u201cwherever I go,\u201d which is the object of the verb \u201cgo\u201d in the main clause.\n\nHowever, one thing all dependent clauses have in common is that they only make sense when attached to a main clause.\nSummary: Independent and Dependent Clauses\nA \u201cclause\u201d is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb. Two of the most important types of clause are \u201cindependent\u201d and \u201cdependent\u201d clauses:\n\n \tAn independent clause (or main clause) expresses a complete thought. It can be a sentence by itself, but it may also be part of a longer sentence.\n \tA dependent clause (or subordinate clause) is part of a sentence that contains a subject and a verb but does not express a complete thought.\n\nThe key is to remember that only independent clauses work by themselves. If you use a dependent clause by itself, you will end up with a sentence fragment. And to make sure your written work is free from grammatical errors, don\u2019t forget to have it proofread.