In the previous lesson we identified two main types of clauses in a complex sentence. That is, independent (or main) clauses and dependent (or subordinate) clauses. Here we are going to analyze the dependent clauses.

Dependent clauses can be divided into 03 categories as;

  1. Noun clauses
  2. Adjective clauses
  3. Adverb clauses

Let us discuss each of the clauses, which is important in order to thoroughly understand the complex sentence structures.

1. Noun clauses

A noun clause is a group of words which contains a subject & a predicate of its own and does the work of a noun.

Let’s see the following examples with special attention to the parts in italics:

  1. I expect to win the race.
  2. I expect that I shall win the race.
  3. That you had met him before makes me surprised.

The first group of words, to win the race, does not contain a subject and a predicate of its own. It is therefore a phrase. This phrase is the object of the verb, win and thus it does the work of a noun. Thus it is called a noun phrase.

The second group of words, that I shall win the race, has a subject and a predicate of its own. It is therefore a clause. This clause is the object of the verb, expect, and does the work of a noun. Therefore it is called a noun clause.

The third group of words, that you had met him before, is the subject of the verb makes. Therefore it is also a noun clause.

2. Adjective clauses

An adjective clause is a group of words which contains a subject and a predicate of its own and does the work of an adjective.

Let’s see the following examples with special attention to the parts in italics:

  1. The bag with a red apple logo is mine
  2.  The bad which has a red apple logo is mine.

The first group of words, with a red apple logo, describes the bag and thus does the work of an adjective. But it has no subject and a verb of its own. It is therefore an adjective phrase.

The second group of words, which has a red apple logo, also describes the bad and it has a subject and a predicate of its own. It is therefore called an adjective clause.

3. Adverb clauses

An adjective clause is a group of words which contains a subject and a predicate of its own and does the work of an adverb.

Let’s see the following examples with special attention to the parts in italics:

  1. John stopped working in the evening (When?)
  2. John stopped working when the evening came (When?)

You will notice that the both groups of words do the work of an adverb as they modify the verb, stopped. The first group of words, in the evening, is an adverb phrase since it has no subject and predicate of its own.

However the second group of words, when the evening came, has a subject and a predicate on its own and it is therefore called an adverb clause.

Complex Sentence: Clauses
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