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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Subordinate Conjunctions and Clause Types (Grammar #8)

Hey guys, for this grammar post I thought it would be fun to cover something brand new today. While the last couple of posts have been related to other classes, I thought we’d settle down and learn another bit of English grammar. Today I thought it would be fun to learn about subordinate conjunctions.

Now, that may seem like a big fancy term, but subordinate conjunctions are really quite simple. They act as transition between ideas in a sentence. For example, you wouldn’t say I will walk the dog my mother gets home. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. A subordinate conjunction acts as a bridge between those two thoughts. I will walk the dog when my mother gets home. That’s really the main purpose, but a second purpose is to establish which of the two ideas is more important. The more important idea is called the Main Clause, and the less important idea is called the Subordinate Clause. Before we go briefly introduce those two things, here’s a short list of some subordinate conjunctions:

After, Although, As
Once, Until, When
If, Than, That

A main clause must have a subject and a verb, and express a complete thought. An example of a main clause is I realized that I left my wallet at home. In that sentence, the main clause is I realized. The ‘that I left my wallet at home’ part is actually a subordinate clause because it starts with a subordinate conjunction, “that”. Essentially, every single sentence must have a main clause, or else it won’t be a complete thought but rather a fragment.

If you put a subordinate conjunction in front of a main clause, or start a sentence with one, then you have a subordinate clause. Here’s an example: When I realized that I left my wallet home… This is not a complete thought, and is a fragment. That is why subordinate clauses are also called dependent clauses, because they depend on the main clause to complete the sentence in order to express a full statement.

When you have a subordinate clause in front of the main clause, you add a comma to separate those two ideas. Here’s an example: Once finished with the test , Jerry walked out of the classroom. If you don’t add a comma, then it gets confusing for the reader to understand everything that is happening in the sentence. However, if you have a subordinate clause following the main clause, you don’t need to add a comma, and doing so would be redundant. Here’s an example of that: Jerry walked out of the classroom once finished with the test. No comma is needed as the sentence already flows well.

Anyway, I thought that I would delve into the topic of clauses, and get started on the subordinate and main clauses. Once you get the basics of how to use both clauses, it is really easy to understand where they are in a sentence and what function they play in the sentence. That’s it for this grammar post, and stay tuned for the next one!

  • Jack Goodenough

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