Grammar

Clause English Grammar

by VIDYANAND

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What is a Clause?

A clause is a group of words containing a subject (S) and predicate (P). It can stand on its own expressing complete meaning. 

Example:

The boys won the match. 

The above sentence has a subject, i.e. ‘The boys’, and a predicate, i.e. ‘won the match’.  The two phrases when combined into one make complete sense and can stand independently as a sentence. Therefore, ‘The boys won the match.’ qualifies as a clause.

Elements of a Clause

Clauses may also have other elements like an object (O), a complement (C) and an adverbial (A). 

Examples:

Object

An Object is a noun or a pronoun that gets affected by the actions of the subjects. In other words, it receives the action.

Examples:

1.  I bought a leather bag.

  • Subject:          I
  • Predicate:       bought
  • Object:            a leather bag

Complement 

A Complement is a word which is a noun, pronoun or an adjective that follows a verb and tells us more about the subject of the sentence.

2. The thief was very shrewd.

  • Subject:           The thief
  • Predicate:       was
  • Complement:  very shrewd

Adverbial 

An Adverbial is a word or a phrase that answers questions such as when, where, how, how often and why an action is done. It plays the role of an adverb in the sentence.

The Sun rose in the morning.

  • Subject:           The Sun
  • Predicate:       rose
  • Adverbial:        in the morning

However, their presence is not mandatory. The subject and the predicate are the only two main components needed to qualify a phrase as a clause.

Types of Clauses

Clauses are classified into two broad categories—main or independent clause and subordinate or dependent clause.

Main Clause

An independent or main clause is a clause or a simple sentence which can stand on its own and convey complete meaning. As the name suggests, it is not dependent on any other phrases or clauses for its meaning. It has only one verb or verb phrase which gives it its tense and meaning.

Let us look at some examples of main clauses.

  • We have fifty actors in our play.
  • The bottle was red.
  • No man chewed on tulsi leaves.
  • The exhibition had already begun when we reached the centre.
  • The host of the party was very arrogant when we complained about the rude waiters.

Subordinate Clause

A dependent or subordinate clause is a clause which forms a part of the main clause and is dependent on it for its complete meaning. Subordinate clauses usually begin with a conjunction.

Let us look at some examples of subordinate clauses.

  • You can bank the prize if you set your heart to it.
  • The judge postponed the hearing since the lawyer was late.
  • Her book got misplaced therefore she could not prepare for the exam.
  • Everyone knew that she was a habitual liar.
  • There is no mathematical problem which my teacher cannot solve.

Subordinate Clauses are further classified into the following types based on the functions they perform.

Types of Subordinate Clauses

There are three types of subordinate clauses.

  • Subordinate Noun Clause
  • Subordinate Adjective Clause
  • Subordinate Adverb Clause

Subordinate Noun Clause

A subordinate clause which performs the function of a noun in a sentence is called a subordinate noun clause.

Examples:

  • What I see is what I believe.
  • What he wants for dinner will take another two hours to prepare.

In the sentences above, the subordinate clauses (marked in green) perform the function of a noun or a subject in the main clause; therefore, they are subordinate noun clauses.

Examples:

  • Can you repeat what was just announced?
  • The little girl loved the bicycle that she received for her birthday.

In the sentences above, the subordinate clauses (marked in green) perform the function of a noun or an object in the main clause; therefore, they are subordinate noun clauses.

Subordinate Adjective Clause

A subordinate clause which performs the function of an adjective in a sentence is called a subordinate adjective clause. 

Examples:

The play which they put up was not up to the mark.

  • The clause ‘which they put up’ describes the noun play; therefore, it is a subordinate adjective clause.

The diary which is on the desk belongs to the manager.   

  • The clause ‘which is on the desk’ describes the noun diary; therefore, it is a subordinate adjective clause.

The man who delivers milk to us has not been coming since a few days.

  • The clause ‘who delivers milk to us’ describes the noun the man; therefore, it is a subordinate adjective clause.

The boy who was appointed to escort the judge was very young.

  • The clause ‘who was appointed to escort the judge’ describes the noun The boy; therefore, it is a subordinate adjective clause.

Subordinate Adverb Clause

A subordinate clause that performs the function of an adverb in a sentence is called a subordinate adverb clause. Like an adverb, adverb clauses also modify the main verb or an adjective or other adverbs in a sentence.

Examples:

  • Switch off the gas once the water begins to boil.
  • The action in the play began as soon as the dancers exited the stage.
  • We need to start the search as soon as everyone leaves the place.
  • Since the entry to the fair is free, let us all go there today.
  • The glass of milk spilled when the cat jumped onto it.