Types of Clauses in English Grammar

Types of Clauses in English Grammar

What is a clause?
A clause is a part of a sentence.

A clause is a group of words that has subject and predicate. Every complete sentence is made up of at least one or more clause(s). Following are clause examples:-

John bought a new car. (One sentence, one clause)
John bought a new car, but he is using his old car. (One sentence, two clauses)

Types of Clauses.

Every clause has at least a subject and a verb. Clauses have some characteristics that help to distinguish one type of clause from another. Clauses are of following types:-

  1. Independent Clauses (Main Clause)
  2. Dependent Clauses (Subordinate Clause)
  3. Relative Clauses (Adjective Clause)
  4. Noun Clauses


What is independent clause, independent clause examples

An independent (or main clause) is a complete sentence. It contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought in context and meaning. It expresses a complete thought.

Independent clause structure: Subject + Verb = Complete Thought.

For example: She walked. (This sentence contains only two words but it is still complete because it has subject and predicate)

Main clauses can be joined by a coordinating conjunction to form complex or compound sentences.


For example: He bought new car but he is still using old one. “but” is used to combine two independent clauses.


what is dependent clauses, dependent clauses examples

A dependent clause (or subordinate clause) is part of a sentence; it contains a subject and verb but does not convey complete sense. They can make sense on their own, but, they are dependent on the rest of the sentence for context and meaning. A dependent clause is joined to an independent clause to form a complex sentence. It often starts with a subordinating conjunction.

beforeeven ifeven thoughif
onceprovided thatrather thanso that

Dependent clause structure: Subordinate Conjunction + Subject + Verb = Incomplete Thought.

Examples: Whenever I go to superstore, I buy chips.

what is relative clause, relative clause examples

A relative clause starts with the relative pronoun at the start of the clause like who, which, whose etc. To make distinction between an antecedent that is a human “who(m)” and an antecedent which is a non-human “which”. Following will make it clear further.

Who(m) is used when the antecedent is a person.
That is used to refer to either a person or thing.
Which is used to refer to anything except a person.

(It is noteworthy that whom is not used much in spoken English.)

Relative Clauses Examples 

  • I met my friends yesterday. The friend, who had curly hair, was very intelligent.
  • The race was the one that I lost.


Restrictive relative clauses are sometimes called defining relative clauses, or identifying relative clauses. Similarly, non-restrictive relative clauses are called non-defining or non-identifying relative clauses and is preceded by a pause in speech or a comma in writing.

Restrictive Clause Example:

The programmer who develops web applications will make a large profit.

Non-Restrictive Clause Example:

The programmer, who develops web applications, will make a large profit.

After prepositionwhomwhichwhomwhich
Possessivewhoseof whomwhoseof whichwhoseof whomwhoseof which


Noun clauses examples

Noun Clauses: It is a dependent clause that works as noun. Noun clauses can act as subject, direct or indirect objects or predicate nominatives. Some examples are as under:-

  • Tell me who left his book on the table. (direct object)
  • I shall tell whoever will listen my interesting story. (indirect object)
  • Whoever is the last one to leave turns off the lights. (subject)
  • The boy with the curled hair is who I want on my team. (predicate nominative)

Noun clauses often begin with pronouns or other words. That particular word usually has a grammatical function in the sentence.

  1. Relative pronouns: that, what, who, which, whom, whose
  2. Indefinite relative pronouns: whoever, whomever, whatever, whichever, whether, if
  3. Interrogative adjective: what
  4. Interrogative adverb: how
  5. Interrogative pronoun: who
  6. Subordinating conjunctions: whenever, how, when, if, where, whether, why