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Types of Clauses

Sep 6, 2022

We know that a sentence is a group of words, which is complete in itself and makes complete sense and that it typically consists of a subject and predicate

But what do we call the group of words that themselves contain a subject and some kind of predicate within a sentence?  

They are called clauses. 

A clause is a sentence component that includes a subject and some sort of predicate. 


  • We will start early since there will be traffic in the evening. 
  • I was cooking food when you called. 

Clauses are of two types:

  • Dependent Clauses
  • Independent Clauses 

Let us take a look at the different types of clauses and see how a clause is different from a phrase:

Independent Clauses 

An independent clause, also known as the main clause, is a group of words that includes a subject and a predicate that can express a complete thought. An independent clause is capable of standing alone as a sentence.  


  • We went to the church in the morning. 
  • She managed to finish the work on time. 
  • I will be in Germany next week. 

Dependent Clauses

Read the sentence: 

I will call you when I am free. 


In this sentence, the main clause is I will call you, which is a complete idea and can also stand on its own as a sentence. But the group of words that follow-when I am free– acts as a subordinate to the main clause. Though they contain a complete idea within themselves, including a subject and corresponding predicate, the presence of the conjunction when indicates that the clause cannot stand alone as a sentence. It is determined by the main clause. 

Now let us define a dependent clause: 

A dependent clause is a group of words that has a subject and a predicate but does not express a complete thought. A dependent clause is incapable of standing alone as a sentence as it always needs a main clause to depend upon. A conjunction is frequently used to identify a dependent clause. 

In fact, in many cases, the presence of a conjunction is the only thing that distinguishes an independent clause from a dependent clause. 


  • Since you have already been there once, I suggest that you drive the car all the way through. 
  • The crowd went berserk when their team scored a goal. 
  • Natalie watches her favorite series whenever she is away free


Like explained earlier, a phrase is a set of words that may contain sentence-building elements such as a noun or a verb. It differs from a clause in that it may not include a subject or a predicate. A phrase adds meaning to a sentence by supplying more details regarding the subject, object, verb, or situation. A sentence is also made up of phrases, however if you isolate a phrase from a sentence, it will not function as a whole sentence. To put it simply, clauses contain phrases, and sentences contain clauses. 

Examples of Phrases: 

  • The sun rises in the east. 
  • Humpty dumpty sat on a wall. 
  • Tell me how to do it


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