Anyone who marvels at how a finite system like the English language can be manipulated in infinite ways will benefit from understanding grammar clauses. This knowledge is particularly helpful for students, who can use it to improve both their writing and reading comprehension, and for teachers, who can use it to call attention to specific problems in their students' writing.
Words and phrases are the parts of language that make up clauses. Clauses are units of grammar that contain at least one predicate (verb) and a subject. A clause, therefore, contains a single verb group.
A clause is different than a phrase.
A simple sentence contains only one clause. Here are some examples of simple sentences that are each comprised of a single clause:
A verb group can consist of a single word (such as played, cooked, and swam) or combine multiple words (as in will excel and has been dreaming). The essential component of a clause is the verb; and a clause only contains one verb or verb group.
There are two main types of clauses: Independent and Dependent
An independent clause could be a sentence by itself or could be combined with other clauses.
Here is a downloadable PowerPoint file with some examples of independent clauses (provided by Capital Community College). The independent clauses are italicized:
A dependent clause cannot be a sentence by itself. If it was by itself it would be a sentence fragment. It needs to be combined with an independent clause to be a full sentence.
Here is a downloadable PowerPoint file with some examples of dependent clauses (provided by Capital Community College). The independent clause is italicized and the dependent clause is underlined:
You can connect two independent clauses in several ways:
1) By adding a comma and a conjunction such as:
2) By using a semicolon
3) By using a semicolon and a conjunctive verb such as:
Typically there are no connector words or punctuation when dependent clauses are combined with independent clauses.
By using clauses correctly you can quickly and easily improve the quality of your writing and your ability to communicate with your reader. With a clause you can direct the attention of the reader so that your sentence is understood. You will also avoid incorrectly using dependent clauses as sentence fragments.
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