Independent and dependent clauses is an integral part of English Language for constructing flawless sentences and avoiding fragments during formation of sentences. Independent and dependent clauses form the building blocks of every sentence in the English Language.

It can help in increasing insights and grasp about constructing sentences of various lengths in writing. Moreover, learning about clauses helps to improve writing skills. An independent clause is a complete sentence if used alone whereas dependent clause is used for making sentences better, interesting and complete.

Usually, independent and dependent clauses are joined together to form an interesting and complex compound sentence by using proper conjunctions, punctuations, etc. Together independent and dependent clauses help in structuring fun and engaging sentences for readers.

Independent and dependent clauses are two main types of clauses. So let us define the term “clause” before delving into its types. A clause is a collection of related words that contains a verb and a subject. However, if a collection of related words lacks a subject along with the verb, then it is termed as the phrase.

Independent clause

It is a collection of related words that can stand alone as a sentence. It can act like a complete sentence on its own. It comprises of a subject, a verb and it is a complete thought by itself. It does not necessarily require to be attached with other clauses to form a complete sentence as it has all the requisite information to be a complete sentence.

It has three primary components:

Independent clause has subject- gives information to the reader what the sentence is all about.

Independent clause has a predicate or an action- gives information to the reader about the action of the subject

Independent clause describes a complete thought- provides information about something happened or about something that was said.

Independent sentence can just be a simple sentence with just a subject or a verb, or it can also be a group of related words.

For example:

Samantha sings

“Samantha” is the subject and the action is “sings.” The thought is complete as something was said and it is conveying a complete thought to the reader that Samantha likes to sing.

Next important thing to remember about independent clauses is that it can be joined with other independent clauses provided the independent clauses are related with each other. Moreover, they must be joined only with proper punctuations. For example

John read a poem; he really liked the poem.

In the above example, the first clause is independent where John is the subject, read is the action, and poem is the object. The second clause is also an independent clause where he is the subject, liked is the action, and the poem is the object.

In the above example, the two independent clauses are related and can thus form a complex sentence by joining with proper punctuation. In this case the proper punctuation is a semicolon.

John read a poem, he really liked the poem.

In this example we have two independent clauses but they are not joined with correct punctuation. This is because if two independent clauses are joined by a comma, it gives a comma splice which is a grammatical error. Independent clauses can be complex in nature, but one thing to keep in mind is that they can always make sense alone and can stand by themselves.

Examples of Independent clauses

She ran (Notice how the clauses is formed by just two word but the sentence is complete with on word subject and one word predicate.)

He cooks

She sings

She ran fast.

I was early to work.

The professor spent the class period reviewing the last week’s assignment.

He really liked the ice-cream.

She enjoyed reading the novel.

The assignment does not specify which type of format it has to be written in.

Let’s start the party.

I’ll tell her the latest news regarding the change in official rules.

The dress is tampered.

It has to be noted that just because an independent clause can alone form a complete thought it does not automatically convey that it has to stand alone. It does not start with a subordinator. It can be used with independent or depend clauses to form compound and complex sentences respectively.

Dependent clause

It is a collection of word comprising of a verb and subject but it not a complete thought. It cannot be used alone and cannot stand by itself because it is not a complete thought. It always is required to be joined with independent clauses to make sense and form a complete sentence. Dependent clause cannot describe a complete thought.

It always begins with a subordinator word such as when, which, if, etc. It can be categorized as dependent by the presence of either a marker word or a conjunction.

Dependent clauses are always recognized by words called as dependent markers. Dependent markers are subordinating conjunctions. If a sentence begins with a subordinating conjunction then it can definitely be called a dependent clause and it is necessary to attach the clause to an independent clause to form a complete sentence.

Few very common dependent markers includes when, whenever, while, whereas, unless, until, though, because, that, rather than, even though, if, since, once, although, after, because, as, etc.

Conjunction include and, or, but, yet, nor, or, etc.

It is necessary to attach a dependent clause to another clause in order to form sentence and avoid fragments of sentences. For example:

Because I slept late at night (This is a sentence fragment where we are writing a “because” or the reason but the “why” is missing or “what happened” is missing)

Because I slept late at night, I was late to work. (In this case we are rectifying the above error by attaching an independent clause “I was late to work”)

It is important to note that dependent clauses can be made more complex by attaching subjects, objects, and modifying phrases.

John, who likes poem, read a poem.

“Who likes poem” is a dependent clause that modifies the John.

Similar to independent clauses, dependent clauses can also be complex. The major difference is even though it can be complex but it can never stand on its own or form a complete thought by itself.

Examples of Dependent clauses

Because I slept late at night… (What happened?)

When she arrived in school … (what occurred)

If she does not return my book on time…  (What will happen)

When she gets here,

If Jane comes to office late,

Which I bought last Sunday

Dependent clause combined with independent clause.

Dependent clause can always be connected to an independent clause to make a longer and a complete sentence. For example:

When she gets here, let’s start the party.

If Jane comes to office late, I’ll tell her the latest news regarding the change in official rules.

The dress which I bought last Sunday is tampered.

All the above sentences are complex sentences with a dependent and an independent clause. There are cases where two independent clauses are joined together to form a longer sentence. These are called as compound sentences. They are joined together with proper punctuations such as semicolon or a comma along with FANBOYS conjunction.  For example:

Birds chirp, and dogs bark.

The weather is stormy today, so don’t get out of the house.

Sometimes sentences can be both compound as well as complex.

Adverb dependent clauses:

When subordinators such as if, when, because, since, etc are used in a sentence then the sentence is called as adverb dependent clause. For example

Don’t get out of the house because the weather is stormy.

I met an accident after I went to the mall.

Dependent marker words

These are words attached in the beginning of an independent clause that converts it into a dependent clause. For example

When John prepared for his elocution speech in the bakery, it was extremely noisy

Few very common dependent markers includes when, whenever, while, whereas, unless, until, though, because, that, rather than, even though, if, since, once, although, after, because, as, whether, in order to, etc.

Joining of dependent and Independent clauses

Dependent and Independent clauses can be joined together by particular words called as connectors. Connector words can be mainly of two different types: Coordinating conjunctions and independent markers.

Coordinating conjunction

There are seven coordinating conjunction words used as connectors to join two clauses.  The coordinating conjunctions together are called as FANBOYS.

F- For

A- And

N- Nor

B- But

O- Or

Y- Yet

S- So

For example:

John prepared for his elocution speech in the bakery, but it was difficult to practice because of the extreme noise.

Independent Marker Word

It is a type of connector used in the starting of an independent clause. This type of connector words have the ability to start a sentence that can stand by itself.  It is important to note that when the independent marker word is added before the second independent clause, a semicolon is required before the independent marker word. For example:

John prepared for his elocution speech in the bakery; however, it was difficult to practice because of the extreme noise.

Common independent markers include consequently, furthermore, moreover, however, therefore, nevertheless, etc.

Connecting Independent Clauses:

As previous mentioned two independent clauses can be joined together with coordinating conjunction provided a comma is added before the coordinating conjunction.

“Independent Clause + Coordinating Conjunction + Independent Clause”

For example:

John prepared for his elocution speech in the bakery, but it was difficult to practice because of the extreme noise.

She likes to sing alone, but he likes to sing together.

Samantha wanted to watch a movie, so Jennifer drove him to the nearby theatre.

The tiger was really fast, yet the deer got away.

Independent clause can also be joined by just a semi colon.

“Independent Clause +; + Independent Clause”

For example:

My sister likes my blanket; she sleeps in my bed.

The flowers look beautiful; it is spring here

My guitar broke; I have to buy a new one.

Independent clauses can also be connected by independent markers.

Independent Clause + Independent Marker Word + Independent Clause

Independent marker words are used in the beginning of an independent clause. For example

Andrew did not prepare for his presentation; consequently, his presentation was disastrous.

Jennifer cleaned her room; therefore, she can go out tonight.

I was tired after work. Nevertheless, I cooked dinner tonight for the guests.

Dependent clauses is added with independent clauses to complete dependent clauses

Independent Clause + Dependent Clause

or

Independent Clause + , + Dependent Clause

Usually a comma is added after the dependent clause if the dependent clause starts with a dependent marker word. However, the comma can be removed if the order of the clause is reversed. For example

Because the kid was giggling (Incorrect because it is an incomplete thought)

Because the kid was giggling, I smiled. (Correct)

I smiled because the kid was giggling. (Correct, comma left out but the order of the clause is reversed)

When I gifted her a bouquet of flowers (Incorrect and incomplete thought)

When I gifted her bouquet of flowers, she was delighted. (Correct)

She was delighted when I gifted her bouquet of flowers. (Correct, comma left out but the order of the clause is reversed)

If my mom is home early from office (Incorrect, Incomplete thought)

If my mom is home early from office, she will take us out to the restaurant tonight.

My mom will take us to the restaurant tonight if she is home early from office.

Common errors to avoid while writing dependent and independent clauses

Comma splices

Splice refers to a connection point. Comma splice is referred to the use of comma between two independent clauses and it is a grammatical error. The error can be removed by adding a full stop or period instead of a comma, by replacing the comma with a semicolon, or by converting the clause to a dependent clause by adding dependent marker word to the clause. For example:

For example

I like to visit museum, it is very interesting. (Incorrect)

I like to visit museum; it is very interesting. (Correct)

I like to visit museum, and it is very interesting. (Correct)

I like to visit museum because it is very interesting. (Correct)

Because it is very interesting, I like to visit museum. (Correct)

Fused Sentences

When two independent clauses is not separated by any form of punctuation it is called as fused sentences. This is also called as run-on sentence. This type of error can be rectified by inserting a period, colon, or a semicolon in order to separate the sentences.

My mom is very patient she has always maintained her calm in tough times. (Incorrect)

My mom is very patient. She has always maintained her calm in tough times. (Correct)

My mom is very patient; she has always maintained her calm in tough times. (Correct)

My mom is very patient, and she has always maintained her calm in tough times. (Correct)

My mom is very patient; moreover, she has always maintained her calm in tough times. (Correct)

Sentence Fragments

When an incomplete thought such as dependent clause is considered as a complete sentence then a sentence fragment is formed. This error can be fixed by adding the incomplete sentence with another sentence and making it a complete thought. It can also be done by removing the dependent marker.

Because I forgot the meeting was today. (Incorrect)

I forgot the meeting was today, I was not prepared. (Correct)

I forgot the meeting was today. (Correct)