Learning the various terms used to define and classify clauses can be a vocabulary lesson in itself. This simply means that some big words to use in college essays can stand by themselves, as separate sentences, and some can’t.
Relative clauses can be either restrictive or nonrestrictive. Needless to say, it is important to learn how to combine independent clauses into larger units of thought. Bob didn’t mean to do it, but he did it anyway. If the word “but” is missing from this sentence, the sentence would be called a comma splice: two independent clauses would be incorrectly connected, smooshed together, with only a comma between them.
Clauses are combined in three different ways: coordination, subordination, and by means of a semicolon. Clauses thus connected are usually nicely balanced in length and import. Ramonita often thought about joining the choir, she never talked to her friends about it. Yasmin told Ramonita to join the choir no matter what her friends said. Semicolons should be used sparingly and only when the two independent clauses involved are closely related and nicely balanced in terms of length and import.
Take these two quizzes on recognizing independent clauses before proceeding to the section on dependent clauses. They must be combined with an independent clause so that they become part of a sentence that can stand by itself. Unlike independent clauses, which simply are what they are, dependent clauses are said to perform various functions within a sentence. They act either in the capacity of some kind of noun or as some kind of modifier. There are three basic kinds of dependent clauses, categorized according to their function in the sentence.