Types of Clauses

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Let us see what is the meaning of clauses and its types. We can group different words available as verbs, adverbs, adjectives, nouns, etc. So the sentence is a combination of these words that are arranged in a meaningful way. And the phrases are the group of words which don't have exact meaning or a subject or not even a verb. Hence by adding them in the sentences will provide meaning. 

Thus the clause lies in the middle of the sentence and the phrases. It has a definite meaning, subject, predicate, and a verb. Now we will learn about kinds of clauses and clauses examples.

Different Types of Clauses in English Grammar

There are two different types of clauses:

  1. Independent Clause: 

It is also called a principal clause. It has both a subject and a verb, it can also act as a sentence. These cannot be simply used as nouns, adverbs or adjectives as they act as a sentence.

Example: She is intelligent.

  1. Dependent Clause: 

It is also known as a subordinate clause, it requires an independent clause to provide the complete meaning of the sentence. This dependent clause consists of a verb, subject and a predicate but they cannot act as a sentence instead they need the support of an independent clause. 

Example: He cried because he fell down the stairs.

These can be used as Noun, Adverb and Adjective as well.

  • Noun Clause: 

If a dependent clause acts as a noun then it is known as a noun clause. These can act as subject or verb of the object.

Example: I think she likes that chocolate cake.

  • Adverb Clause: 

If a dependent clause acts as an adverb it is known as an adverb clause. It performs the action of an adverb that modifies the verb or another adverb or adjective. 

Example: I might leave early as I have an important task.

  • Adjective Clause: 

If a dependent clause acts as an adjective it is known as an adjective clause. It can qualify a noun or pronoun that is available in the sentence.

Example: I have borrowed that pen which has blue ink.

Dependent Clause: Types of Clauses with Examples

  1. Conditional Clause: 

The clause that helps to describe something that is probable or possible. It begins with “if or unless”.

Example: I will be back home in one hour unless there is heavy traffic.

  1. Relative Clauses: 

The relative clause is connected to the main clause by some of the words such as which, that, who, whose, whom, when, or where.

Example: I visited this place when I was travelling to Switzerland.

The Relative Clause is further divided into Two Types:

These are divided based on the usage of the word “that” while introducing the relative clause.

  • Restrictive Relative Clauses: It is also called a defining relative clause. It provides required information about the noun which comes before it. In the absence of this clause, the meaning of the sentence is not completed. One should not place a comma before the restrictive clause. Which, whose, that, whom, or who comes under this clause.

For example, She held the leg which was hurt.

We can also construct the sentence without the usage of that or which.


Using that: It reminded him of the place that he was planning to visit.

Without using that: It reminded him of the place he was planning to visit.

  • Non-Restrictive Relative Clauses: It is also called non-defining relative clauses. It can provide extra information in the sentence which cannot affect the structure or meaning of the sentence. A comma can be used in front of these clauses. Excluding that we can use which, whom, whose, or who under this clause.

Example: She held the phone, which Rob threw away.

If the non-restrictive clause appears in the middle of the sentence then the comma should be placed before and after the clause.

Example: Rob, who was asleep on the bed, woke up suddenly.

Now we have learnt what is a clause, examples of it now let us learn how we can recognise it.

How to Identify Clauses?

Let us recognize the different types of clauses in English grammar.

  • Every main clause follows the below-mentioned pattern.

Subject + verb = complete sentence or thought

Example: My friend loves the pizza crust.

Here friend is subject and loves act as a verb. Every sentence must and should include at least one of the main clause, else it may lead to an error.

  • A subordinate clause will follow the pattern as

Subordinate conjunction + subject + verb = incomplete sentence or thought

Example: As coffee spilled over the mug and splashed on the books. 

In this example ‘as’ acts as subordinate conjunction, coffee is the subject and spilled and splashed acts as a verb. We know that the subordinate clause alone cannot act as a complete thought, so along with that, the main clause has to be added to provide complete meaning. 

Main clause + subordinate clause

Subordinate clause + , + main clause

  • The adjective clause begins with a relative pronoun or relative verb. 

Relative pronoun or adverb + subject + verb = Incomplete sentence or thought

Relative pronoun as subject + verb = Incomplete sentence or thought

Example: Whom professor John hit in the hand with chalk.

Here ‘whom’ acts as a relative pronoun, professor John acts as the subject and hit acts as a verb. Same as that of the subordinate clause, the adjective clause cannot alone, cannot act as a complete thought, so along with that, the main clause has to be added to provide complete meaning. Adding an adjective clause is a bit tricky, before the usage one must decide if it is essential or nonessential and add the commas as required. The essential adjective clause does not require a comma whereas the nonessential adjective clauses need it.

  • A noun clause does not have any particular pattern instead it just acts as a noun. 

Example: I really want to know the ingredients in the cake prepared by your aunt.

Here the ‘ingredients’ acts as a noun, so here in place of “ingredients” if we add a clause to expand the sentence meaningfully it acts as a noun clause. 

Example: I really want to know what your aunt adds to the cake.


A clause is something that lies in between the sentence and a phrase, which has a definite meaning, a subject and even a predicate. These clauses can be mainly divided into two types, these can be further divided into various types depending on the usage. We can even recognize the clauses that are used in the sentence where some of them might provide complete information by acting as a sentence but some of them depend on the various clauses to add meaning to the sentence. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What is meant by Clause?

Ans. A clause is a unit that has a lesser rank compared to the sentence which consists of a subject and a predicate. 

Q2. How can We Identify a Clause?


  • Identify the verbs or phrases present in the sentence, as a clause always consists of at least one verb.

  • Identify the conjunctions present either the coordinating conjunctions or the subordinating conjunctions which help the clauses to link together.

  • You should be careful while checking the clause as sometimes we can find a clause that appears more than once.