Adjective and adverb clauses What are they? How do they make my writing more effective? Why do I need to know this?
Clauses • A clause, like a sentence, is a group of words containing a subject and a verb. Unlike a sentence, it is not complete in that it does not begin with a capital letter nor end with punctuation. • Clauses can be independent, (IC) and stand alone, or dependent, (DC) needing the help and presence of an independent helper.
Independent clauses (IC) • An independent clause can stand alone and is considered a “sentence” only if punctuated properly. • Ex: Sally likes to play guitar (clause) • Ex: Sally likes to play guitar. (sentence)
Dependent clauses (DC) • Dependent clauses cannot stand alone, and need to be attached to an independent clause to make a sentence. • Ex: who lives next door • Ex: after she completes her homework • Note: Both have a subject and verb, as well as a subordinating conjunction, (who, after) but have no end punctuation.
Types of dependent clauses • Dependent clauses can act as adjectives or adverbs. Remember that an adjective modifies a noun, while an adverb can modify a verb, adjective, or another adverb. • “who lives next door” is an adjective clause • “after she completes her homework” is an adverb clause
How an adjective clause works • An adjective clause modifies a noun in the independent clause. • Ex: Sally, who lives next door, likes to play guitar. • “who lives next door” is telling the reader something interesting or important about the noun “Sally.”
How an adverb clause works • An adverb clause modifies a verb, adjective, or adverb in the independent clause. • Ex: Sally likes to play guitar after she completes her homework. • “after she completes her homework” tells the reader when Sally likes to play her guitar, giving the verb more specificity.
Step one: Locating the dependent clause • In the following two sentences, locate the dependent clause by eliminating the independent clause: • Before he eats breakfast, John must make his bed. • Ms. Bogart is the teacher who wrote the book on catching gum chewers.
Decide the dependent clause’s function • Ask a question that can only be answered by the dependent clause • Before he eats breakfast, John must make his bed. (When must John make his bed?) • Ms. Bogart is the teacher who wrote the book on catching gum chewers. (Ms. Bogart is which teacher?)
Find the word being modified w/ the answer to the question • Before he eats breakfast, John must make his bed. (“before he eats breakfast” tells the reader when John must make his bed, so it’s modifying “make”, which is a verb, so the DC is an adverb clause.
Find the word being modified w/ the answer to the question • Ms. Bogart is the teacher who wrote the book on catching gum chewers. (“who wrote the book on catching gum chewers” tells the reader to which teacher the sentence refers, and “teacher” is a noun, so the DC is an adjective clauses.
Practice sentence 1 • Molly and Jane drove the car until it ran out of gas. • Molly and Jane drove the car = IC • Until it ran out of gas = DC • Until it ran out of gas tells the reader how long the girls drove. • Drove is a verb, so the DC is adverb.
Practice sentence 2 • Pizza, which contains very hot cheese, should be eaten carefully. • Pizza should be eaten carefully = IC • Which contains very hot cheese = DC • Which contains very hot cheese tells the reader something about the pizza. • Pizza is a noun, so the DC is an adjective.
Why do I need to know this? • There are two reasons a good writer learns to use dependent clauses: • 1) Differentiating sentence lengths makes a paragraph more readable. A paragraph with identical sentence lengths is called a “list.” • 2) Adding clauses makes the sentences more interesting for the reader, as well as defines the intent of the IC more clearly.
Steve’s modified paragraph • Read Steve’s second draft: • After the bus came to a stop, the kids stepped off. Mary lived in the house which was half a mile away. She limped home because her foot still hurt from gym class. She knew the boy who pushed her was going to get in trouble. She thought she would tell her teacher when she got to school the next day. Her best friend, whose name was Dianne, saw the whole thing. As they walked along, Dianne asked if she was in much pain.
Steve’s original paragraph • Notice how the meaning of Steve’s first paragraph isn’t nearly as clear without the dependent clauses: The kids stepped off. Mary lived in the house. She limped home. She knew the boy was going to get in trouble. She thought she would tell her teacher. Her best friend saw the whole thing. Dianne asked if she was in much pain.
Have fun with clauses! • The next time you write a paper, count the number of words in each sentence per paragraph. Are they similar, (within 5 words of each other)??? • If so, perhaps you need to add some dependent clauses to spice them up!