It is important that you understand the difference between an independent and dependent clause.
This topic is usually included in the GED® RLA test, so let’s learn how it works.
If you have knowledge of this, it may very well help you to vary sentence length in your writing, which will make all forms of writing much better. It is important that, before you can understand the different types of clauses, you understand what clauses are.
Clauses are groups of related words that contain both a subject and a verb. And on the other hand, if groups of related words do not contain a subject with an attached verb, they are simply phrases.
Independent clauses are groups of words that may stand on their own as sentences. They have subjects, verbs, and are complete thoughts.
- He ran. (Notice that, whereas this sentence only has two words, it still is a complete sentence as it has a 1-word subject as well as a 1-word predicate which is a complete thought as well.)
- He ran very fast.
- I was too late to work.
- The paper doesn’t specify which format type must be used.
- The teacher spent the entire class period to review the difference between dependent and independent clauses.
Dependent clauses are groups of words that also contain a verb and a subject but that are not complete thoughts. Because they are not complete thoughts, dependent clauses cannot stand on their own as sentences. They are dependent on getting attached to independent clauses to form sentences.
- Because I got up early this morning… (what did happen?)
- When we finally arrived at our class… (what did occur?)
- If our neighbors don’t pay their rent on time… (then, what happens?)
A dependent clause may be identified by so-called “dependent markers”, words that are generally subordinating conjunctions. When clauses begin with one of these “dependent markers”, they are dependent and must be attached to independent clauses.
Common dependent markers are these words:
as, after, although, before, because, even though, once, if, rather than, that, since, though, until, unless, while, when, whereas, whenever, among others.
Note: The fact that independent clauses can stand on their own doesn’t mean they have to.
For example, multiple independent clauses may be added together and form a compound sentence.
And an independent clause may be added to a dependent clause and form a complex sentence.
Next lesson: Sentence Fragments
Last Updated on April 7, 2021.