Types of Clauses

Clauses are used in English grammar very often. A clause is nothing but a pair of words that has a subject and a predicate. If you take a basic statement in English it consists of single clause and a complicated sentence may contain more than one clause. There are different kinds of clauses that we use in different situations. So let’s know about them.

There are two kinds of clauses: principal (or main) clauses, and subordinate (or dependent) clauses.

Types of Clauses

Types of Clauses

Principal Clauses: A group of words which includes a subject and a finite verb and makes a complete statement.

Examples:

  • The house stands on the hill.
  • When I come home, I will let the cat in.

The following are not principal clauses because they do not make a complete statement which can stand by itself:

  • Which is a problem
  • That the man is not on the hill
  • When I come home
  • The man stands on the table

Subordinate Clause: A group of words which includes a finite or non-finite verb but does not make a statement which stands by itself.

Examples:

  • As soon as the Green Knight entered the room all were astounded.
  • He said that the Green Knight was really orange.
  • The house, which stands on the hill, is empty.

Subordinate clauses can be classified according to their function:

Adverbial Clause: An adverbial clause functions like an adverb in modifying another clause.

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Examples:

  • As soon as the Green Knight entered the room, all were astounded.
  • In this sentence the clause fulfills the same function as an adverb such as immediately in the sentence immediately all were astounded.

Noun Clause: A noun clause can be used as both an object and as a subject.

Examples:

  • He said that the Green Knight was really orange.
  • The clause fulfills the same function as a noun such as the words in He said the words.

Relative Clause

Examples:

  • The house, which stands on the hill, is empty.
  • Relative clauses are adjectival in nature. The clause fulfills the same role as an adjective such as high placed in the sentence
  • The high-placed house is empty.

Clauses can also be classified by whether they contain a finite verb.

Finite Clause : A finite clause contains a finite verb and, usually, a subject. It can be a principal clause or a subordinate clause.

Examples:

  • They say nice things about you. (Principal clause)
    When they say nice things about you they are not lying. (Subordinate clause)

Non-Finite Clause: A non-finite clause contains a non-finite verb but does not contain a finite verb and cannot stand alone. A non-finite clause cannot be a principal clause. Non-finite verbs consist of participles and infinitives.

Examples:

  • Singing and dancing, he moved slowly up the aisle.
  • He gave me an invitation to bring you to the party.
  • Having eaten all the cakes, he began to consume the biscuits.
  • Filled with joy, he left the room.

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