The Dependent Clause

A dependent clause contains a complete subject and a complete verb asdoes a main clause.

Subordinate Connectives

  • Here is a partial list of subordinate connectives.

  • They will help you to identify dependent clauses.

afterbeforesinceuntilwhether
althoughhowso thatwhatwhich
asifthanwhenwhile
as ifin order thatthatwherewho
becauselikeunlesswhereaswhy

The Complex Sentence

The Complex Sentence contains one main or independent clause and one or more subordinate or dependent clauses.

  • When a dependent clause stands alone, it creates a fragment.

  • A fragment is less than one main clause.

  • It is a major error that an academic writer should avoid.

Example:

Because leis made of flowers, leaves, or shells are usually associated with the Hawaiian Islands.

  • This type of fragment can be avoided by eliminating the subordinate connective.

Example:

Leis made of flowers, leaves, or shells are usually associated with the Hawaiian Islands.

  • Or the dependent clause can be added onto a main clause thereby creating a Complex Sentence.

Example:

Because leis made of flowers, leaves, or shells are usually associated with the Hawaiian Islands, many people are not aware of the universal connection between the lei and necklaces and crowns worn in other parts of the world.

Caution:

  • Some subordinate connectives double function as prepositions.

  • Although they are both modifiers, it is easy to distinguish one from the other.

  • A dependent clause always has a subordinate connective that is followed by a complete subject and a complete verb.

Example:

Before the Hawaiian lei came into being, necklaces and crowns were worn as body adornments, tokens of love, and symbols of rank since prehistoric times.

  • A prepositional phrase will always contain a preposition that is followedonly by a noun or pronoun object.

Example:

Before the development of the Hawaiian lei, people living elsewhere were attracted by colors, textures, materials, and techniques that were used to make that kind of wearable art.

  • When a dependent clause comes in front of a main clause, there is a pause.

  • Therefore, a comma is needed to separate the two clauses.

Example:

In primitive cultures, where people admired how plants, flowers, or various kinds of seeds or nuts looked, smelled, sounded, or felt, they gathered samples to carry with them as portable treasures or magical tokens.

  • When a dependent clause follows a main clause, there is no pause.

  • Therefore, no punctuation is needed to separate them.

Example:

Wearing flowers or leaves around the neck or on the head left people free to move their arms and legs as they went about doing their daily chores.

  • In general, when a dependent clause comes in the middle of a main clause, there are commas (pauses) on both sides.

Example:

Some of the earliest crowns or necklaces, which were made out of perishable materials like flowers or leaves, indicate that early man's home was probably in or near a forest.

Note:

  • In this case, the dependent clause is non-restrictive.

  • It is a renamer with non-essential information.

  • However, sometimes a dependent clause in the middle of a mainclause is restrictive.

  • It contains information that is essential to the meaning of the main clause.

  • In that case, no commas will be used.

Example:

According to the historian, Marie McDonald, people who lived on the earth during pre-Christian times had leis made from perishable materials as well as nonperishable items.

Note:

  • You cannot hedge your bet.

  • If a dependent clause is inside of a main clause, you must have two commas or no commas.

  • That, what, who, and which are also relative pronouns.

  • They can double function as the subject and subordinate connective of the dependent clause.

Examples:

1. that:

In 750 B.C., the Greeks wore the earliest recorded type of perishable leis that were crowns made of laurel and olive leaves.

2. what:

Its sacred connection with the sun god Apollo was what made the crown of laurel so highly prized.

3. who:

After being woven into leis, laurel leaf crowns were used by the Greeks to honor those who were heroes or who held high office.

4. which:

In other cultures, crudely fashioned necklaces or leis which have been dug out of graves or manmade caves have survived from the Paleolithic time period.

Caution:

  • That, what, who, and which may double function as both the subject and the subordinate connective in a dependent clause.

  • However, they won't always function in both capacities.

Note:

  • In the following example, that is an adjective or noun-modifier.

  • It is not a subordinate connective or a relative pronoun.

Example:

Leis of that type have been preserved because they were made out of non-perishable materials like bone, ivory, and shells as well as animal teeth and fish bones.

  • In the next example, that is the subject of a main clause.

  • It is a pronoun.

  • It is not acting as a subordinate connective.
Example:

That is why they were able to withstand the test of time.

  • In the following sentence, that is a subordinate connective in the dependent clause.

Example:

By the time of the Neolithic time period, that dates from 3500 to 200 B.C., man had gone from salvaging fishbones to fashioning hand-tooled beads from clay, soft stone, or glass.

  • The subject of the dependent clause is the word that.

  • In the next example, who double functions as the subordinate connective and the subject of the dependent clause.

Example:

Craftsmen in the Aztec and Mayan cultures, who developed highly sophisticated techniques for making necklaces or leis, used gold and feathers to make them with.

  • In the final example, that double functions as the subordinate connective and the subject of the dependent clause.

Example:

The wreath that was made out of olive leaves was used to honor winners of Olympic events.

Note:

  • Who is used to refer to people.

  • That and which are generally used to refer to animals and things.

A Complex Sentence can have dependent clauses in front of, in the middle of, and after a main clause.

Example:

Whereas the Malaysians preferred to make their garlands out of fragrant flowers, leis, which were made to be worn as necklaces or crowns, were prized by the Chinese who made them out of jade, pearls, and gold as well as by Africans and American Indians who used materials like feathers, shells, and beads made of clay,* because those materials were close at hand when an occasion requiring a necklace or a headdress to be worn for a particular occasion called for craftsmen living in different cultures to produce that kind of wearable art.

*When you have several dependent clauses in a row and you want an extra pause, place a comma between them where there is least disruption of meaning.

Note:

  • Two subordinates side by side, not normally paired, indicate two dependent clauses, one inside the other.

Example:

I think that if you see the Hawaiian lei as part of a worldwide tradition involving necklaces and crowns, you will have a greater appreciation for those made of perfumed blossoms and fragile leaves.

  • The main clause is: I think.

  • The subordinate if controls the first dependent clause. (if you see the Hawaiian lei as part of a worldwide tradition involving necklaces and crowns)

  • The subordinate that controls the second dependent clause. (that you will have a greater appreciation for those made of perfumed blossoms and fragile leaves)

  • Since dependent clause number one is not a renamer, there will onlybe one comma or pause separating the two clauses.

A single subordinate connective can make more than one clause dependent.

  • The coordinate connectives for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so (fan boys) connect equal parts of a sentence.

  • So at the beginning of a sentence, if the first clause is dependent and a coordinate connective is used to connect it to the second clause, both clauses will be dependent.

  • You will have a double dependent clause fragment.

Example:

Because factory-made products were mass produced in the twentieth century and packs of chewing gum, wrapped candies, and tiny bottles filled with liqueurs were used as beads with an edible component.

  • To prevent a fragment which is less than one main clause, eliminate the coordinate connective.

  • Revise your punctuation.

  • And form a Complex Sentence.

Example:

Because factory-made products were mass produced in the twentieth century, packs of chewing gum, wrapped candies, and tiny bottles filled with liqueurs were used as beads with an edible component.

  • Or retain both dependent clauses and add a main clause to form a Complex Sentence.

Example:

Because factory-made products were mass produced in the twentieth century and (because) packs of chewing gum, wrapped candies, and tiny bottles filled with liqueurs were seen as beads with an edible component, contemporary leis took on a whole new role.

  • Now, both dependent clauses are linked together with the coordinate connective and which joins clauses of equal value.

  • The first dependent clause is: because factory-made products were mass produced in the twentieth century.

  • The second dependent clause is: because packs of chewing gum, wrapped candies, and tiny bottles filled with liqueurs were seen as beads with an edible component.

  • The main clause is: leis took on a whole new role.

An entire dependent clause can function as the subject of a main clause.

Example:

That an edible lei could be worn around the neck of a child to serve as a necklace as well as a snack would have been beyond belief to Islanders of old.

A Complex Sentences can have a dependent clause with an implied subordinate connective.

  • The implied subordinate is usually the word that.

Example:

Most people don't know such common materials as cigarette wrappers and U.S. dollar bills have been used in the past for the making of modern day leis.

  • The main clause is: most people don't know.

  • The implied dependent clause is: (that) such common materials as cigarette wrappers and U.S. dollar bills have been used in the past for the making of modern day leis.

  • The implied subordinate can also be who or whom.

Example:

To satisfy the needs of all the people they are made for, leis make use of a broad range of materials that pass through the creative hands of their makers.

  • The main clause is: leis make use of a broad range of materials.

  • The implied dependent clause is: (who) they are made for.

  • The regular dependent clause is: that pass through the creative hands of their makers.

A reminder:

  • All sentences are determined by the number and type of clauses they contain.

  • If you have 1 main clause and 9 dependent clauses, you still have just one Complex Sentence.