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Online Clauses

What Are Clauses?

Clauses are groups of words with a subject and a verb.

Wow. That was short. You won’t have a hard time memorizing that definition! You should memorize it, by the way.

There are two main types: independent and dependent.

1. Independent

These can stand alone because they express complete thoughts.

The sun rises in the east.

Warm brownies taste delicious!

I drink coffee.

2. Subordinate / Dependent

These can’t stand alone because they don’t express complete thoughts.

since I drink coffee

whenever the sun rises

because I love stories

Do you want to know the super cool thing about these? They act as one part of speech! Isn’t that crazy?

All of the words come together to act as an adjective, adverb, or noun.

We can divide these into categories based on what part of speech they function as. When we do this, we get three categories.

The three types of subordinate clauses are adjective, adverb, and noun.

1. Adjective

These function as adjectives.

That means that they modify nouns or pronouns.

They are often introduced by special words called relative pronouns (who, whose, whom, that, which), but they can also be introduced by relative adverbs (where, when, why).


The woman who looked happy danced.

Who looked happy is modifying woman.

Check out the sentence diagram of that sentence. Notice that the diagram shows the adjective clause connected to woman, the noun it is modifying. The diagram really SHOWS that these function as adjectives. Isn’t that neat?


2. Adverb

These function as adverbs.

That means that they modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

These are introduced by subordinating conjunctions (after, before, if, since, until…).


I read because I love stories.

Because I love stories is modifying read.

This is how we would diagram that sentence. Notice that the diagram shows the adverb clause connected to read, the verb it is modifying.


3. Nouns

Are you surprised to discover that these act as nouns? You probably already used your powerful brain to figure that out.

These can do anything that nouns can do.

That means that they can be subjects, direct objects, objects of prepositions, indirect objects, and more.

Sometimes these are introduced by words called noun clause markers, and sometimes they have no word introducing them at all!


My mother knows I love the library.

I love the library is the direct object of the verb knows.