What Is an Example of a Dependent Clause?


In order to improve your writing skills, you need to know whether the sentences you are writing are actually sentences and not just fragments. You need to be able to determine if your sentences express a complete thought or not, that way you can easily know what to do to correct it and how to do it effectively. Not only will this help you in your essays, research, and any writing activities, it can also help you make better written outputs that can affect your chances of getting hired for a job in the future.

What Is a Dependent Clause?

A dependent clause, sometimes also called as a subordinate clause, is a group of words with a subject and verb. However, it does not express a complete thought unlike that of a sentence. Since it is basically not a sentence, it cannot stand on its own, meaning you will not understand the context of a dependent clause by itself. By its name, you can easily determine the a dependent clause depends on being attached to an independent clause to form a sentence.

Usually, dependent clauses can be identified by words called dependent markers. These dependent markers are usually subordinating conjunctions. If a clause begins with any of these words, it is a dependent clause that needs to be attached to an independent clause to express a complete thought:

after in order (that) unless
although insofar as until
as in that when
as far as lest whenever
as soon as no matter how where
as if now that wherever
as though once whether
because provided (that) while
before since why
even if so that
even though supposing (that)
how than
if that
inasmuch as though
in case (that) till

Here are some examples of a dependent clause:

  1. What the girl did was not very helpful.
  2. Because I said so
  3. He finally finished his novel, after months of research.
  4. The trophy goes to whoever wins the race.
  5. If you pass the test
  6. While I was asleep, the cat knocked over the plant.
  7. Where is the ice cream that was in the freezer?
  8. I can’t figure out why she said that.
  9. We will do whatever is necessary.
  10. If you are not done with your homework on time
  11. When I was five
  12. The author, whom I met at the book signing, was very cordial.
  13. Since no one else volunteered, the job is yours.
  14. If you can give me two reasons, I will allow it.
  15. Since it will rain today
  16. While you might love dancing in the rain, it can make you sick.
  17. Before the trial ended
  18. Jason is tired because he only slept for five hours last night.
  19. Since frequent studying helps college students earn better grades, students can often be found working together in the library.
  20. If you pass the test

Types of Dependent Clauses

Based on their function on a sentence, a dependent clause is generally divided into three categories. Here are the three main types of dependent clauses:

1. Noun Clause

A noun clause is a dependent clause that acts as a noun. It can basically be a name of a person, place, idea, or thing. In addition, it can also function as a subject, direct object, preposition, or an appositive. Here are some words that can be used to introduce a noun clause: who, why, whom, what, that, whether, how, when, whoever, where, and whomever. However, you need to remember that some of these words can also be used to introduce adjective and adverbial clauses; therefore, a clause can only be considered as a noun clause only if you can replace/substitute a pronoun (he, she, it, they) in its place.

For example:

  1. Whatever we study increases our knowledge.
  2. Why you did that is a mystery to me.
  3. At Halloween, you can be whomever you want to be.
  4. What you eat helps determine your body size.
  5. I buy whatever I need.
  6. They argued about how they should pay the bill. 
  7. No one would tell me who came to Ken’s party.
  8. Barbie has always been given whatever she wants.
  9. The fact that you are here is reassuring to me.
  10. The question is whether he can do the job.

2. Adjective Clause

In the same sense as the first one, the adjective clause is a dependent clause that acts as an adjective in a sentence. This type of dependent clause is also known as Relative Clause which basically functions similarly to an adjective that in essence also modifies a noun or pronoun. In addition, since an adjective clause acts as an adjective, it answers to questions such as which, what, whom, who, etc. Aside from that, it also generally begins with a relative pronoun like that, who, which, whose, whom or a relative adverb such as when, why, where. Usually, an adjective clause immediately follows the the person, place, or thing they describe.

 Here are some examples of an adjective clause:
  1. I saw a child who was crying. 
  2. Joe read the book that I gave him. 
  3. A politician who is trustworthy has the people’s support.
  4. The car, which I like, consumes less fuel.
  5. Spring is the season when everything blooms.
  6. The house where I was born has been turned into apartments.
  7. We did not understand the reason why our experiment failed.
  8. My sister, who is a lawyer, sponsored my education.  
  9. A lot of people know why the movie was a flop.
  10. Mr. Peters, who lived by the ocean, has died yesterday.

3. Adverbial Clause

Similar to an adverb, an adverbial clause is an dependent clause that modifies a verb, an adjective clause, or another adverb clause in a sentence. It adds information or modifies a verb of the main clause in terms of time, frequency, condition, cause and effect, and intensity. For time, an adverbial clause uses these subordinating conjunctions: when, whenever, since, until, before, after, while, as, by the time, as soon as, etc. These conjunctions are used in an adverbial clause signifying a cause and effect: because, since, now that, as long as, as, so that, etc. Meanwhile, the following subordinating conjunctions are used for adverbial clauses of contrast: although, even, whereas, while, though. And these conjunctions for condition: if, unless, only if, whether or not, even if, providing or provided that, in case, etc.

Listed below are some examples of an adverbial dependent clause:

  1. Unless you avoid sugar, you can’t lose weight.
  2. The poor woman had no money because she had just lost her job.
  3. When spring arrives, flowers bloom.
  4. I have to rush because I can’t wait any longer.
  5. Where there is smoke, there is fire.
  6. You will live a happy life as long as you think positively.
  7. No matter how you look at it, he was the one at fault.
  8. He answered the question as if he knew the subject quite well.
  9. Unless you have the right size, that dress is not going to look good on you.
  10. You will not have enough time to relax if you work on Sundays. 

It is important that you know how to identify the differences between an independent and dependent clause, not only because it is necessary but also because it can improve your communication skills. It can make you write and say things better and that will be easier to understand for the people you are communicating with. We hope that the explanations as well as the examples made it clear for you what a dependent clause is.

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