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Dependent and independent clauses

An independent clause is a sentence that has a subject and a verb and requires no extra information to understand. Dependent clauses, which start with subordinating conjunctions such as "while," "that," or "unless," give background information but cannot stand on their own as sentences.

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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Ice
    How simple can an independent clause get?
    (12 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user blue
    for those who don't understand

    the independent clause is the one that makes sense

    Dependent clause does not make sense and it is not clear

    hope this helps!
    (20 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user lauren
      That's a great explanation! I'll add some examples too :)

      Some examples:

      Independent clause:
      She wants popcorn.
      (Makes sense and can stand by itself).

      Dependent clause:

      Than his sister can.
      (Doesn't make sense, and needs more detail to understand).
      (12 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user kazemihabib1996
    Why did you put a comma before Unless in "That's our pet rabbit unless I'm mistaken" while the dependent clause came after independent clause.
    (17 votes)
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  • old spice man blue style avatar for user saurabhag12
    Rosie gave an example for dep.clause "Because it was delicious"is this not a phrase?
    (9 votes)
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  • duskpin tree style avatar for user Mikaiah Oxford
    What are the comma rules for independent and dependent clauses? At , David says, "I feel that there should be a comma here." But is this comma necessary? Sure, I think the sentence sounds and looks better with a comma. But how do I know when commas are imperative between independent and dependent clauses? Does it depend on the number of words in the first clause?
    (13 votes)
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    • leafers seedling style avatar for user ejones822
      The reason a comma was used there is because it contains the word unless.
      Unless is a coordinating conjunction. Coordinating conjunctions are words that connect / join phrases, clauses, or in general a group of words that hold equal importance. When connecting clauses with coordinating conjunctions a comma is a must which is why it is used.
      (3 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Larry Van Fossan
    what is the difference between the dependent and independent clauses
    (5 votes)
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    • aqualine seed style avatar for user bunnysparkles
      An independent clause is independent, meaning it can stand alone in a sentence. A dependent clause cannot stand alone as a sentence and "depends" on another clause being present in the sentence.

      For example, "While I go to the grocery store" is a dependent clause because it is not a complete sentence. It lacks an independent clause to finish it. What happens while you go to the grocery store? Meanwhile, "You do homework" is a complete sentence and an independent clause. "While I go to the grocery store, you do homework" contains an independent clause ("you do homework") and a dependent clause ("while I go to the grocery store") and is a complex sentence.

      I hope this helps. You should also be able to find videos on this topic.
      (12 votes)
  • starky sapling style avatar for user Sariah Lindsay
    Does this mean that we cannot have subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun as the first word in a sentence?
    (6 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      How about we try a few. Read these and tell me if they work.

      Although she was confused, she won the contest.
      For the tenth time, they won the big game.
      And as for snacks, we had Cheetos!
      Nor rain nor snow nor dark of night will keep these servants from their appointed rounds.
      By hook or crook, she made it through.
      Yet once again, they attacked the weak people.
      So, what do you think?
      (8 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user davyfunk10
    Why did you put a comma on the last example before "until"?
    (6 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Hecretary Bird
      Good question. The general rule that we've been taught is that when a dependent clause follows an independent clause, you don't need to put a comma. However English is English, which means there are exceptions to this and many other grammatical "rules". Here, usually if you have clauses that oppose each other in meaning (conjunctions like although, until, unless, whereas, etc), then we put a comma just to signify that we're talking about the opposite idea. Here's an example:
      I like skiing, while Usnavi prefers snowboarding.
      (7 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user MutanTGamr12609
    whats a subordinating conjuction
    (3 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Hecretary Bird
      A subordinating conjunction is a type of word that links together independent and dependent clauses. Usually, it would transition from the main point of a sentence to some side detail. Here, the word "after" links the detail (dependent clause) to the main thing the sentence is getting across (independent clause):
      "After he washes the dishes, Usnavi will finally get some free time."
      Subordinating conjunctions can tie together clauses in a lot of ways. It doesn't always have to be that one happens before the other, as with "after". "Because" allows you to show cause and effect, "although" tells you that the ideas will contrast, and so on.
      (12 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user eclipce2323
    Wow, I thought dependent clauses, need independent clauses to make sense.
    (8 votes)
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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello, grammarians. Hello, Rosie. - [Voiceover] Hello, David. - [Voiceover] We're gonna talk about dependent and independent clauses. Full disclosure, this is a relatively advanced part of grammar, but it is important to understand, because mastering dependent and independent clauses and being able to say why a clause is dependent or independent will help you become a better writer, will help you become a stronger writer, and give your sentences vim and vigor and strength. So with all that out of the way. Let's start with independent clauses, because an independent clause is basically a sentence. We established previously that all a clause is is just a collection of phrases with a subject and a verb. So, for example, the sentence, I ate the pineapple, period, is an independent clause. So, it's a couple of phrases, we've got this noun phrase I, we've got this verb phrase ate the pineapple, and together that becomes a subject and verb or a predicate. So, Rosie, what is a dependent clause? - [Voiceover] So dependent clause is different from an independent clause in that it can't stand on its own as a sentence. So it includes a subject and a verb, but it can't be its own sentence. And sometimes it might look like a sentence, it could start with something like a subordinating conjunction, like the word because, for example, because it was delicious. - [Voiceover] Okay. And let's be clear here, you know, obviously, this is an utterance that people say. You know, if you ask me why did you eat the pizza, I would respond by saying, because it was delicious. Why do we climb the mountain? Because it is there, you know. I'm not saying that this is not, not an utterance that is made by native speaking English speakers. It is, of course it is. But you have to be aware that it is a dependent clause and therefore a sentence fragment. And part of natural informal speech is that we do use a lot of sentence fragments. And sentence fragments are not as common in formal writing. You may sometimes use them for effect, but I want you to remember that these videos are about standard American English, and a kind of formal version of standard American English. And so, we're trying to teach you to distinguish between independent and dependent clauses so that you can use them skillfully in the full knowledge and mastery of your choices. You gotta learn your scales before you can improvise. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] Dig? - [Voiceover] Dig. - [Voiceover] So because it was delicious, not a sentence. This is a dependent clause, because it begins with this subordinating conjunction because. You could also work in something like although, or while, and any of these would make it a dependent clause. Now, if it was just on its own, it was delicious, yeah, of course, that is a sentence. The part that makes it dependent is this subordinating conjunction. You put that onto the front of it and all of a sudden it needs an independent clause to lean up against. I know this is confusing, so let's take a look at a couple more examples of independent and dependent clauses. So, the following are independent clauses, Rosie. - [Voiceover] The bear roared. Maureen pointed out the monster. That's not our pet rabbit. - [Voiceover] And let's do some dependent clauses, and then you can see that we'll be able to combine them into sentences. - [Voiceover] While the salmon flopped. That she saw last night. Unless I'm mistaken. - [Voiceover] So you can see that these are all clauses, right, we've established that, you know, each one has a subject and a verb. The bear roared, the salmon flopped. But all of these have some kind of, everything in orange has something that's either a subordinating conjunction like while or unless, or a relative pronoun like that. So while the salmon flopped. You can see in this context the bear roared while the salmon flopped, you can kind of understand why this is called the dependent clause, because by the context of this sentence, while the salmon flopped, something else was going on, right. This is kind of like background information. And it's in fact not necessary for comprehending the first sentence or the first clause, the independent clause, the bear roared. And if we did combine these, you would realize that the salmon flopped is just background information. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] Right. But we need to know what else is going on for there to be a while. - [Voiceover] So the bear roared is a perfectly sensical sentence on its own. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] And while the salmon flopped is providing us with this extra information. The bear is roaring while the salmon flopped. But if we were just to see the sentence while the salmon flopped on its own, like say, we didn't have the bear roared, it would make less sense. - [Voiceover] Right, because the presence of this word while indicates that something else is also going on, that's what makes it dependent. So we need to have the bear roared. Likewise, Maureen pointed out the monster, that sentence works fine on its own. That she saw last night, sure there's a subject and there's a verb, she and saw, right, she saw something, she saw that, but this relative pronoun needs to refer back to something, and that makes it dependent on the monster. So this last one's a little tricky, right, because you might be looking and saying, well, unless I'm mistaken, where's the verb? Well, the verb is kind of hiding in here. So unless I am mistaken, right. So, the presence of this subordinating conjunction unless makes this into a dependent clause. So unless means it's kind of hinging on some other information. So the other information is that's not our pet rabbit, unless I'm mistaken. I feel that there should be a comma here, so I'm gonna put one in. That's not our pet rabbit, unless I'm mistaken. I hope this has cleared some stuff up. So an independent clause is a subject and a verb and it can be a sentence. A dependent clause is a subject and a verb, but also a subordinating conjunction and it cannot be a sentence. You can learn anything, David out. - [Voiceover] Rosie out.