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Independent and Dependent Clauses

What is a clause?
A clause is a group of words containing a subject and a verb.  It can be either independent or dependent (subordinate).

What is an independent clause?
An independent clause can stand alone as a complete grammatical sentence. It contains the main subject and verb of the sentence. It may or may not have an object.  Also remember, in English, the sentence order is Subject, Verb, (Object).  For example:

          The cat             is                      in the room.
          Subject             Verb                Prepositional Phrase Showing Place

          John                 hit                     his sister.
          Subject             Verb                Object             

What is a dependent (or subordinate) clause?
A dependent clause cannot stand alone as a grammatical sentence because of an extra element that changes an independent clause into a dependent clause.  It must always be connected to an independent clause. For example:

          Extra element   +       Independent clause                                         = Dependent clause
          Because                       I                       was                  late                  
                                             Subject             Verb                Adjective

          Extra element   +       Independent clause                                         = Dependent clause
          When                           I                       miss                  the bus                          
                                             Subject             Verb                Object 

The following sentences are examples of dependent clauses connected to independent clauses:

          Dependent clause        +                     Independent clause                             = Complex Sentence
          Because I was late                                I had to run all the way to school.
           

          Independent clause     +                     Dependent clause                                = Complex Sentence
          I must drive to school                           when I miss the bus.

 What is a sentence fragment?
A sentence fragment is not syntactically complete.  It may express a complete idea, but it does not follow standard, grammatical sentence structure.  To correct these fragments, add the missing component.  The following are examples of this type of sentence fragment:

Fragments may also be a dependent clause and, therefore, cannot stand alone as a grammatical sentence.  To correct these fragments, combine them with an independent clause or change them into an independent clause.  The following are examples of this type of sentence fragment:

What is a run-on sentence?
A run-on sentence is two independent clauses with neither proper punctuation nor a conjunction between them.  To correct these run-on sentences, add a semi-colon, a period, or a comma and a coordinating conjunction.  The following are examples of this type of run-on sentence:

Another type of run-on is a comma splice.  This sentence has two or more independent clauses joined by a comma but not with a coordinating conjunction.  To correct these run-on sentences, separate them with a semicolon, a period, or add a coordinating conjunction after the comma.  The following are examples of this type of run-on sentence.

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