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A dependent (subordinate) clause is part of a sentence; it contains a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought. They can make sense on their own, but, they are dependent on the rest of the sentence for context and meaning. They are usually joined to an independent clause to form a complex sentence.
Dependent clauses often begin with a a subordinating conjunction or relative pronoun (see below) that makes the clause unable to stand alone.
The door openedbecausethe man pushed it.
Dependent clauses can be nominal, adverbial or adjectival.
A nominal clause (noun clause) functions like a noun or noun phrase. It is a group of words containing a subject and a finite verb of its own and contains one of the following: that | if | whether
Noun clauses answer questions like "who(m)?" or "what?"
An adverbial clause (adverb clause) is a word or expression in the sentence that functions as an adverb; that is, it tells you something about how the action in the verb was done. An adverbial clause is separated from the other clauses by any of the following subordinating conjunctions: after | although | as | because | before | if | since | that | though | till | unless | until | when | where | while
Adverbial clauses can also be placed before the main clause without changing the meaning.
!Note - When an adverb clause introduces the sentence (as this one does), it is set off with a comma.
Adverb clauses answer questions like "when?", "where?", "why?"
An adjectival clause (adjective clause or relative clause) does the work of an adjective and describes a noun, it's usually introduced by a relative pronoun: who | whom | whose | that | which
This kind of clause is used to provide extra information about the noun it follows. This can be to define something (a defining clause), or provide unnecessary, but interesting, added information (a non-defining clause).
Information contained in the defining relative clause is absolutely essential in order for us to be able to identify the car in question.
A non-defining relative clause is separated from the rest of the sentence by commas. If you take away the non-defining clause the basic meaning of the sentence remains intact.
Adjective clauses answer questions like "which?" or "what kind of?"
An adjective clause functions as an adjective (modifies a noun or pronoun); an adverb clause functions as an adverb (describes a verb, adjective or other adverb); a noun clause is used as a noun (subject of a verb, direct object, indirect object, predicate nominative or object of the preposition).
!Note - The difference between a clause and a phrase is that a phrase does not contain a finite verb.
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