Let's check out some examples! I'll underline the subordinate clauses for you.
Nathan ate pancakes while he read the newspaper.
Whenever he sees a pretty sunset, Nathan wants to visit the beach.
Sentences can start with either the independent clause or the subordinate clause.
Notice that if the subordinate clause comes first, you must add a comma. If the independent clause is first, you don't need a comma.
Independent clauses are groups of words that contain a subject and a verb, and they can stand alone as complete thoughts.
I ate seventeen pancakes.
I get stomachaches.
Independent clauses act all by themselves and don't need any help. They can stand alone, and in the case of complex sentences, they are nice enough to help out those cute little subordinate clauses! How kind of them!
A subordinate clause (aka dependent clause) is also a group of words that contains a subject, but this kind of clause cannot stand alone as a complete thought.
Because I was hungry
Whenever I overeat
These guys needs to be linked to independent clauses in order to make sense.
Here are those two subordinate clauses joined with independent clauses. Now they make two complex sentences.
Because I was hungry, I ate seventeen pancakes.
I get stomachaches whenever I overeat.
Subordinate clauses come together to function as one part of speech.
They can act as adjectives, adverbs, or nouns, and each one is joined to the independent clause with a different kind of word.
The Three Types of Subordinate Clauses
All of these example sentences are complex because they contain an independent clause and a dependent clause.
1. Dependent adjective clauses act as adjectives. That means that they modify nouns or pronouns.
They are joined to independent clauses with words called relative pronouns or relative adverbs.
This is the house that Jack built.
2. Dependent adverb clauses act as adverbs. That means that they modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.
They are joined to independent clauses with subordinating conjunctions.
I washed the dishes after I ate breakfast.
3. Dependent noun clauses act as nouns. They can do any of the noun jobs (subject, direct object, object of a preposition...).
They are introduced by wh- words or words that you can call noun clause markers.
Whatever you want is fine with me.
If you want to teach or learn grammar the easy way, then follow a step-by-step program that clearly lays everything out for you and allows you to move at your own pace. The Get Smart program is presented in a logical sequence, so it's not an overwhelming mishmash of information. Before you know it, you'll be a grammar and sentence diagramming pro!The whole program is online, so you have instant access to these lessons and videos. It's easy and fun. You can get it at www.English-Grammar-Revolution.com/daily-diagrams.html
Elizabeth O'Brien is the creator of the Grammar Revolution step-by-step grammar and sentence diagramming programs. Her programs are guaranteed not only to teach you grammar, but also to give you more confidence in your communication skills.
To get your free Parts of Speech guide and receive Elizabeth's bi-weekly articles on improving your grammar and having fun with sentence diagramming, enter your email address and name below right now.