Dependent & Independent Clauses

True or False: a Dependent Clause does not have a Subject-Verb relationship?

Occasionally, we answer questions on Yahoo! Answers. Below is our response to the question in the title of this blog, chosen as “best” by Yahoo! voters.

Our Answer

False. By definition, a clause has a subject-verb combination, whether it is dependent or independent. Perhaps you are thinking of a phrase, which does not have the subject-verb combination.

For example, this sentence has a dependent clause (before the comma) followed by an independent clause (after the comma).

“When John saw Mary, he knew he had found his true love.”

The dependent clause “when John saw Mary” has a subject, “John,” and a verb, “saw.” However, because it starts with the word “When,” it can not stand on its own as a complete sentence. This makes it a dependent clause, meaning it must be attached to an independent clause.

In this sample, the independent clause is “he knew he had found his true love.” This, too, has a subject and verb (“he knew”). It can stand as a complete sentence, so it is an independent clause.

On the other hand, a phrase does not have a subject and verb. The next example has an adverbial phrase (before the comma), followed by an independent clause (after the comma).

“When running down the street, he found his true love.”

As you can see, “when running down the street” does not have a subject. For this reason, it is a phrase and not a clause.

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1 Comment

Filed under Editing, Writing

One response to “Dependent & Independent Clauses

  1. Good explanation and great example. Thanks for sharing.

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