The Structural Foundation of the Sentence

Clauses Are Noun/Verb Combos

A sentence clause a key unit of the sentence.  It represents the noun/verb combinations that differentiate complete from incomplete sentences.

Clauses vs. Phrases

Note the a clause always has a noun or a verb.  A phrase is not quite a clause — it's simply a group words that fills in as a single part of speech.

Already Understand Clauses?

If you already feel comfortable with the concept of clauses, you may be ready for the page on Writing Complex Sentences.

Video: Phrases and Clauses from Khan Academy

Independent Clauses Are Complete Sentences

An independent clause is basically the "adult" of sentences clauses — it can live on its own.  It always has a subject and verb, and they can stand alone.

An Independent Clause is a Verb Clause — it fulfills the function of the predicate in a sentence.

Examples of Independent Clauses

More Complicated Examples of Independent Clauses

Note that the prior examples are very simple — they are easily expanded.  You can shift meaning by changing the tense, adding modifiers, and (in our next section) dependent clauses:

Dependent Clauses Mooch Off the Dependent Clauses

Dependent clauses cause confusion because they also have a noun and a verb.  But they aren't independent.  Instead, they modify meanings in the independent clause.  Noun Clauses can function as nouns, Adjectival Clauses can modify nouns, and Adverbial Clauses modify the verb.

Typically, the adverbial clauses are the ones you most need to worry about.  Because they modify the verb, they often modify the entire sentence.  Some adverbial clauses are so long, in fact, that they are easily mistaken for independent clauses.

Examples of Dependent Clauses

The dependent clauses are in italics:

Additional Resources: Types of Dependent Clauses

Need more details?  Here are helpful descriptions from K12 Reader:

Video: Types of Clauses by Janet Bergman