Those Dependent Clauses

What oh what do I do with sentences that can’t stand-alone? I’m talking about Dependent clauses. What is a dependent clause? It is a group of words with a verb (Conveys action) and a subject. Unlike Independent clauses that can stand on their own, dependent clauses don’t express a complete thought and therefore they’re not a complete sentence. They must be joined to another clause to avoid making a sentence fragment.

Dependent clauses are often indicated by the presence of words such as; because, before, after, although, since, whenever, though, even if, while, even though, whenever, wherever. They often contain conjunction words such as; Nor, yet, but, and, or.


Because I lost my umbrella.

Because? Why? What? This is a sentence fragment if it doesn’t have a clause explaining what happened.  So it should be joined with a clause explaining or justifying the ‘because’.

Because I lost my umbrella, I got wet from the rain.

‘I got wet from the rain’ is an independent clause. Joining a dependent clause with an independent clause assures thought is expressed and it is now a sentence.

Dependent clauses can become more complex if we add subjects, objects, and modifying phrases:

Dale, who likes eating salty snacks, ate some potato chips.

Dale is the subject. ‘Who likes eating salty snacks’ is a dependent clause that modifies Dale. It contains ‘likes’ and ‘ate’ which are verbs. The potato chips are the object.

There are three types of Dependent clauses. Noun, adverb and adjective.

Noun –  They describe a thing or a person. Such as; living creatures, objects, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.
Adjective –  They a describe noun such as; good, big, blue and fascinating.
Adverb – They describe a verb, adjective or adverb. Such as; quickly, silently, well, badly, very, really. (Don’t forget, a lot of filter words are adverbs)

Dependent Adverb Clauses

Adverb clauses will modify verbs and begin with subordinating conjunctions (join clauses, sentences or words. Like these; and, but, when.)

  • When the baby arrives
  • Because I can’t wait for the train
  • Since you don’t have enough time
  • Whenever you go to play
  • As if she knew what was going to happen
  • Until the tide turns
  • While children continue to learn
  • Supposing that he really wanted to stay
  • Before the cheese gets moldy
  • Although I never tried it
  • Unless I have the right combination
  • How he got the job
  • As the cars were moving
  • If you can rest on Sunday
  • No matter how you look at it
  • Than his friend can

Dependent Adjective Clauses

Adjective clauses modify nouns and often begin with a pronoun, (They replace a noun with words such as; I, you, he, she and some.) and sometimes with a subordinating conjunction.

  • That I gave him
  • Why the cake was terrible
  • Who is dumb
  • That was a deal
  • When the flowers bloom and grow
  • Which is located downstairs
  • Where I went to play basketball
  • Whom we met before the party
  • Who live by the office
  • Whose singing is always amazing

Dependent Noun Clauses

Noun clauses can act as a noun and name a place, person, thing or idea.

  • How he would get there
  • Why she did that
  • That you are talking
  • Whomever I like
  • If the ice-cream is on sale
  • Whoever stands in line
  • Who let the rooster in the henhouse
  • What he expected
  • Whether he can drink that much
  • Whatever makes you comfortable

Dependent Clauses In Sentences

These highlighted dependent clauses could easily be found accidentally on their own pretending to be sentences.

  • What Amber did.
  • After hours of revision.
  • While Scott was at work.
  • Why Scott said that.
  • Whatever is necessary.
  • That was in my desk?
  • Nobody wanted to drink it.
  • That you took.
  • Whenever I go to the movies.
  • Where I was hired.
  • Whom I have for Math.
  • Since nobody offered.
  • Whereas Dale has only one.
  • If you can explain why.
  • Until the bar closes.
  •  Whoever has the better layout.

Corrected Dependent Clauses

  • What Amber did was not very smart.
  • Dale finally finished his project, after hours of revision.
  • While Scott was at work, the neighbour’s dog peed on his door.
  • Amber can’t figure out why Scott said that.
  • Scott will do whatever is necessary.
  • “Where is the natty purple inked pen that was in my desk?
  • After Scott coughed on the coffee pot, nobody wanted to drink it.
  • That set of car keys that you took belong to Dale.
  • Whenever I go to the movies, I will sit in the middle.
  • The place where I was hired is on Main street.
  • The teacher, whom I have for Math, is a total jerk.
  • Since nobody offered, Dale didn’t get any cake.
  • Scott has two lovers, whereas Dale has only one.
  • If you can explain why, you can borrow the car.
  • You may drink beer until the bar closes.
  • The job goes to whoever has the better layout.

My advice about dependent clauses.
They are usually found during editing and revising. When read aloud they sound unusual or incomplete. They are easy to fix and when they are, it makes for easier reading.


Other interesting posts.

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My Posts From The Start


Independent Clauses depend on nobody.

I love my independence. As a grown up, I can do whatever I want to do. Individually I am a complete person. Sentences are made up of parts. I have been sharing my exploration of the parts of speech and sentences.

Necessary parts of sentences are clauses. Specifically I’m talking about independent clauses. One independent clause can be it’s own complete sentence. However using a dependent clause can make an independent one more interesting. With proper punctuation the two can be joined together to create compound sentences that are more interesting. What does this mean as a writer? It means by making sentences more complex and engaging the reader will enjoy what I’ve written more than, if it were all simple stand-alone sentences.

For example, I’m good on my own as I’m a complete person. However, I’m more interesting if I’m holding something fun or doing something exciting.

Independent clauses contain three components: A subject, Action and they express a complete thought(Something happened)

They can be as simple as only a verb and a subject

Amber bakes.

Since the reader knows amber bakes, a complete thought is expressed.

Two Independent clauses can be joined if they are related. It is imperative to use proper punctuation to bring them together.

Amber nibbled a fresh cookie; she really enjoyed baking.

Both clauses are independent. I’ll start with the first clause. Amber is the subject, nibbled is the action and cookie is the object. In the second clause she is the subject, enjoyed is the action and baking is the object. Both can stand-alone but since they are related, a semi-colon joins them making this a complex sentence.

If I were to join the two with a comma, it would look like this:

Amber nibbled a fresh cookie, she really enjoyed baking.

Because they are two independent clauses, joining them with a comma is called a ‘comma splice’ or spell check will yell at me to ‘consider reversing’. Yes, I do this when I write. I can usually find these bad boys during revision.

Examples of Independent Clauses

  • Amber enjoys sitting and watching movies.
  • Dale wants to go to the play.
  • Scott never comes to work prepared.
  • Amber and Dale agreed the forest hike fun.
  • Amber really wanted Earl grey tea.
  • Dale can hardly wait to go to his family dinner.
  • Dale and Amber want to keep their secret from work.
  • Scott’s behaviour toward Amber is scary.

Examples of Independent Clauses Joined Together by a comma 

  • Amber enjoys sitting and watching movies, but she thinks the books are better.
  • Dale wants to go to the play, for Amber won free tickets.
  • Scott never comes to work prepared, as he forgets his lunch often.
  • Amber and Dale agreed a forest hike is fun, but the beach is better.
  • Amber really wanted Earl grey tea, but they only had Orange Pekoe and Green.
  • Dale can hardly wait to go to his family dinner, but Amber was nervous about meeting his parents.
  • Dale and Amber want to keep their secret from work, but someone guessed she is pregnant.
  • Scott’s behaviour toward Amber is scary, but she doesn’t know she’s in danger.

Sentences with two independent clauses joined by semicolons

  • Amber went to the dentist; she got her teeth cleaned.
  • During their date, Dale noticed Scott spying; they went home.
  • Scott brought the beer; Dale brought the chips and dip.
  • Amber was happy; she had pickles and peanut butter.
  • Scott is going to the bar; he intends to stay there until it closes.
  • It rained at the park; Amber still enjoyed that portion of her walk.
  • Amber prefers to use a car-wash; Dale washes by hand.

My advice about Independent Clauses.
Two joined Independent clauses are a great way to spice up your prose. Make sure they are indeed two independent clauses and that the punctuation is correct. 


Other grammar posts

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There is so much more

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My Posts From The Start


Running off with Run-on’s

Everyone has heard the term run-on sentence. Some people believe they are sentences that just go on and on and are way too long. That’s not always the case. I remember a friend saying if you pause or take a breath when reading as sentence its a run on sentence. What she meant was run-away sentence.

A run on sentence is a single sentence containing two or more independent clauses joined without conjunction (ie, and, yet or so… etc) or without proper punctuation. Yes they can go on and on and on as well.

For example:  Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor Scott laughed at her misery.

A run on sentence can be as short as four words or even less.
For example:

Amber cried Scott laughed.

There are some ways to correct a run-on sentence.

The semi colon or dash:

 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor; Scott laughed at her misery.
 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor—Scott laughed at her misery.

Put a coordinating conjunction with a comma in.

 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor, and Scott laughed at her misery.
 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor, while Scott laughed at her misery.
 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor, as Scott laughed at her misery.

The above three can also be done without the comma as well.

 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor and Scott laughed at her misery.
 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor while Scott laughed at her misery.
 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor as Scott laughed at her misery.

Using a comma without the conjunction might be considered a “comma splice” to some and to others it would be thought of as fine.

Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor, Scott laughed at her misery.

Write the two clauses as separate sentences

 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor. Scott laughed at her misery.

Finally you can make one clause independent of the other.

Amber cried because of the broken mug on the floor making Scott laugh at her misery.
Scott laughed at Amber’s misery over the broken mug on the floor.

Personally I would aim for that last one on the list. It’s not clunky, chunky or broken up.  Amber’s been having some bad luck lately. Run-on sentences are best found when reading out loud or when someone else reads your work or proofs it. Sometimes as the writer I find I skip over them because I wrote them in the first place.

My advice about run-on sentences.
Find them fix them.  Find them, and fix them. Find them then fix them. Find them—fix them. Find them; fix them. Fixing them is easy to do when you find them.


The ‘been there, done that’ people

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