Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Grammatically Yours – What’s in a Clause? Independent versus Dependent (Semicolons 2/5)

Before we go any further with semicolons, we need to address the difference between an independent and a dependent clause.

So, what *is* the difference?

The name says it all.

An independent clause is able to stand on its own, and it contains all the important stuff needed to make it a sentence – a subject, a verb, and a complete thought (complements, modifiers, etc., may or may not be present). A dependent clause has a subject and a verb, but it does not express a complete thought and is unable to stand on its own as a sentence.

Independent clause = sentence
Dependent clause = something else that isn’t a sentence

Here is an example of a dependent clause:

When we entered the room

Something is missing, right?

This group of words does not express a complete thought and cannot stand on its own. It has a subject and a verb, but it is “dependent” on something else to complete the thought.

When we entered the room, three large men holding three large knives attacked us.

With the addition of a secondary (independent) clause, this sentence now expresses a complete thought.

Dependent clause + independent clause = sentence of perfection

Dependent clauses are easy to identify because they do not express a complete thought. In addition, dependent clauses are usually introduced by certain key words. These words have technical names (subordinating conjunctions, relatives, etc.) based on the type of dependent clause they are introducing. For now, however, simply knowing that they exist is enough. The following table contains several of the most commonly used words:

After
Although
As
As if
As long as
As much as
Because
Before
If
In order that
Since
So that
Though
Unless
Until
Whatever
When
Whenever
Where
Wherever
Whether
Which
While
Whomever
Whose

We could go into much greater detail regarding independent versus dependent clauses, but for our purposes, we simply need to be able to identify the two.

After all of this, what do independent and dependent clauses have to do with semicolons?

Return for part three to find out!

I know. I’m mean.

*snicker*

I hope to see you tomorrow!

~~~~~

Schedule:

Day Two: What’s in a Clause? Independent Versus Dependent <you are here>

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