smallest grammatical unit that can express a complete proposition

A clause is a part of a sentence. Each clause is made up of a subject (who or what the sentence is about) and a predicate (what happens in a sentence). Each predicate has only one main verb. I love you is a sentence which has only one clause. I love you and I will always love you is a sentence which has two clauses. The two clauses are I love you and I will always love you. These clauses are joined together by the word and, which is a conjunction. Clauses may be independent or dependent.

In use


Two clauses can be joined with a pronoun. For example: I live in London, which is in England. Here, I live in London is the first clause, and which is in England is the second clause. The word which is a pronoun which takes the place of London. It joins the two clauses. A sentence can contain many clauses. But sentences with fewer clauses are easier to understand.

Dependent and independent clauses


A simple sentence may also be called an independent clause. It may be a part of a compound or complex sentence, but it can also stand on its own as a simple sentence (or independent clause).[1] A subordinate clause also called a dependent clause is one which cannot stand by itself.[2] This is because it does not express a complete thought.[2] It contains both a subject and a verb.[3] A subordinate clause always depends on a main clause.[4] The main clause is almost always an independent clause, therefore the main clause by itself makes sense and can stand on its own. However, the subordinate clause does not. For example, I love you makes perfect sense left on its own. However, and always will, does not. The only time a sentence can be made up of only dependent clauses is when they are joined by correlative conjunctions: conjunction pairs like "either/or", "neither/nor", and "not only/but also".


  1. Randy Rambo (2012). "Sentences: Simple, Compound, and Complex". English Composition 1. Archived from the original on 26 December 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "What Is a Subordinate Clause? (with Examples)". Grammar Monster. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  3. Robin L. Simmons (1997). "The Subordinate Clause". Grammar Bytes. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  4. "Clauses". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on 3 January 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2015.

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