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Clauses PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Clauses. What is a clause?. A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and its verb. A phrase DOES NOT contain a subject and its verb whereas a clause ALWAYS contains a subject and its verb. Examples:. 1. Whenever I see a woodpecker. subject. verb.

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What is a clause?

A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and its verb.

A phrase DOES NOT contain a subject and its verb whereas a clause ALWAYS contains a subject and its verb.


1. Whenever I see a woodpecker



2. The girl with the yellow ribbons in her

hair stood outside of the movie theater.



General Categories

There are two general categories of clauses:

Independent (or main) clauses


Subordinate (or dependent) clauses

Independent clause

Contains a subject, its verb, and a COMPLETE THOUGHT. Independent clauses can function as sentences.


I lost a shiny ring at the amusement park.


This sentence contains a subject, its verb, and a complete thought. This is an independent clause.


Subordinate clause

Contains a subject and a verb BUT DOES NOT EXPRESS A COMPLETE THOUGHT!!!! Subordinate clauses cannot stand alone as sentences; to make sense, they must attach to independent clauses. For this reason, subordinate clauses are sometimes called DEPENDENT clauses.


Whenever I go to the gym



While this group of words contains a subject and a verb, it does not contain a complete thought. This is a subordinate clause. Subordinate clauses are sometimes called dependent clauses.

Whenever I go to the gym, I drive through my old neighborhood.

This sentence now makes sense because the meaning of the subordinate clause is completed.

Independent clause

Subordinate clause

Types of subordinate clauses

Adjective clause – used as an adjective; modifies a noun or a pronoun

A family is more than a group of people who are related.

“who are related” modifies people (a noun) and functions as an adjective. Since it contains a subject and its verb, it is a clause. Therefore, it is a subordinate clause functioning as an adjective.

Keys to recognizing adjective clauses

  • Look for key words that introduce adjective clauses

  • Relative pronouns: who, whose, whom, which, and that

    Ex. I bought a car that travels very fast.

  • Relative adverbs: when, where, why

    Ex. Some people still live in hunter-gatherer

    societies, where a “family” may have 20 to

    200 members.

Essential adjective clauses

  • Provides information that is essential, or necessary, to identify the preceding noun or pronoun.

    Ex. People who drink and drive can serve long prison sentences.

Nonessential adjective clauses

  • Add information to a sentence whose meaning is already clear

    Ex. Irene, who is your first cousin, was

    married last fall.



Writers are often not sure whether to use that or which to introduce essential (restrictive) or nonessential (nonrestrictive) clauses. Follow these guidelines to use these words correctly.

That is used to introduce an essential clause.

Ex. The reception was held at a hotel that looks like a castle.

Which is used to introduce a nonessential clause.

Ex. The Clairmont Hotel, which looks like a castle, is 100 years old.

Adverb clauses

  • Subordinate clauses that modify verbs, adjectives, or adverbs. (Answer all of the questions answered by an adverb)

    Ex. Most children leave home when the time is right.

Subordinating Conjunctions

  • Begin adverb clauses

  • See page 21 in your Grammar Mastery – for Better Writing workbook

Examples - Closely examine the following groups of words. Name each group as either a phrase or a clause.

  • Whenever I see a fancy car

  • Screaming at the top of my lungs

  • That she is alone

  • Since the coach was angry

  • Because Mary likes the band N’Sync

  • Unless she comes for dinner

  • On which I spent several days

  • With a sick child in the back of the car

  • Tattered and worn from years of use

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