Set III, 2

SUBORDINATE CLAUSES

A clause is often defined as a group of related words that contains both a subject and a predicate. Like a phrase, a subordinate (or dependent) clause is not a sentence. The subordinate clause functions as a single part of speech--as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb. Notice the relationship of the sentences below to the clauses that follow.

SENTENCES

That fact I must admit. Ralph was my first and only blind date. I married him.

SUBORDINATE CLAUSES IN SENTENCES

I must admit that Ralph was my first and only blind date. (Noun clause--direct object)

The first blind date that I ever had was Ralph. (Adjective clause) 

Ralph was my first and only blind date because I married him. (Adverb clause)

In the examples above, that and because are used as subordinators: they subordinate the clauses they introduce, making these clauses dependent. The following words are commonly used to mark subordinate clauses.

RELATIVE PRONOUNS

that, what, which, who, whoever, whom, whomever, whose

SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS

after, although, as, because, before, if, once, since, that, though, till, unless, until, when, whenever, where, wherever, while

Subordinators may consist of more than one word:

as if, as soon as, as though, even though, in order that, in that, no matter how, so that no matter how hard I try, I cannot float with my toes out of the water. We bought three dozen doughnuts so that everyone would be sure to have enough.

SUBORDINATE CLAUSES USED AS NOUNS

NOUNS NOUN CLAUSES

The news may be false. What the newspapers say may be false. (Subject)

I do not know his address. I do not know where he lives. (Direct Object)

Give the tools to Rita. Give the tools to whoever can use them best. (Object of a preposition)

That fact--Karen's protest-- The fact that Karen protested amazed me. amazed me. (Appositive)

The conjunction that before a noun clause may be omitted in some sentences:

I know she is right. (Compare "I know that she is right.")

SUBORDINATE CLAUSES USED AS MODIFIERS

Two types of subordinate clauses, the adjective clause and the adverb clause, are used as modifiers.

Adjective clauses: Any clause that modifies a noun or a pronoun is an adjective clause. Adjective clauses, which nearly always follow the words modified, are most frequently introduced by relative pronoun but may begin with such words as when, where, or why.

ADJECTIVES ADJECTIVE CLAUSES

Everyone needs loyal friends. Everyone needs friends who are loyal. The golden window reflects The window, which shines like the sun. gold, reflects the sun. Peaceful country sides no Country sides where I found longer exist. peace of mind no longer exist.

If it is not used as a subject, the relative pronoun in an adjective clause may sometimes be omitted: He is a man I admire. (Compare "He is a man whom I admire.")

Adverb clauses: An adverb clause may modify a verb, an adjective, an adverb, an infinitive, a gerund, a participle, or even the rest of the sentence in which it appears. Many adverb clauses can take various positions in a sentence. Adverb clauses are ordinarily introduced by subordinating conjunctions.

ADVERBS ADVERB CLAUSES

Soon the lights went out. When the windstorm hit, the lights went out. No alcoholic beverages are No alcoholic beverages are sold locally. sold where I live. Speak distinctly. Speak so that you can be understood.

Some adverb clauses may be elliptical.

If I can save enough money, I'll go to Alaska next summer. If not, I'll take a trip to St. Louis. (Omitted words are clearly implied.)


SUBORDINATE CLAUSES: Harbrace College Handbook, 8th edition, pp. 18-21.

Hit Counter