Clauses

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This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, fix, or tell me)

A clause contains a subject and a predicate, and is either a complete sentence, or part of one.



Compared with

Phrases

Sentences

Dependence

A fairly semantic judgement based on whether the clause expresses a full thought.

Independent clause

Independent clauses, a.k.a. main clauses, express a complete thought. A single clause is generally a simple sentence.

Compound clauses contain at least one independent clause as the main clause.


Dependent clause

Dependent clauses, a.k.a. subordinate clauses or embedded clauses, still contain a subject and predicate, but cannot be used as a sentence, as(/when) it does not express a complete thought (which may be a criterion you can judge in grammatical terms(verify), but may be fully in pragmatics).

(see also dependent phrase)


One reason a clause may be dependent is that it refers to a subject instead of explicitly containing one.

Another is that a dependent clauses has been made from independent clauses by having started a compound construction for some sort of elaboration, by adding a dependent word/connective, often a coordinating conjunction such as 'but,' or a relative pronoun such as 'which'.


Dependent clauses act like a particular lexical category in compound or complex sentences, and are used describe or modify the referent of the clause they are attached to(verify). Most common are:




Relative clause

This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, fix, or tell me)

A relative clause is a dependent clause that modifies a noun phrase (e.g. noun, pronoun).

For example, in the phrase "the man who wasn't there", the noun man is modified by relative clause who wasn't there.

The purpose of a relative clause is often to be:


In terms of syntax, relative clauses can...

  • be introduced by relative pronouns, such as 'who' in the last example, used in various (indo-?)European languages
  • be introduced by relativizers (a type of conjunction), as in many Semitic languages
  • rely purely on positioning, such as in Japanese(, Chinese?)