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Types of Clauses

Last updated date: 25th May 2024
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The different words can be grouped as adverbs, verbs, nouns, adjectives etc. The sentence is essentially the combination of different words arranged or structured in a meaningful way. The phrases, on the other hand, are a group of words that don’t have a precise meaning or topic or not even a verb. Thus the addition of phrases in the sentence gives meaning. The clause is somewhere in the middle of sentences and phrases. The clause has a definite subject, meaning, predicate, and verb. 

Types of Clauses

Let us see what is the meaning of clauses and their 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 that don't have exact meaning or a subject or not even a verb. Hence 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 Used in English Grammar

The two different types of clauses in English are the Independent clause and the Dependent clause. The independent clause is also referred to as the principal clause. It has a subject as well as a verb, and it can also be used as a sentence. These cannot be used as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs since they act as sentences. An example of the independent clause is: She is intelligent.

The dependent clause is also called the subordinate clause and it needs an independent clause for providing the complete meaning to the sentence. The dependent clause is made of subject, verb, and predicate but it doesn’t act as the sentence as they need support from the independent clause. An example of the dependent clause is: He cried since he fell down the stairs. The dependent clause can also be used as the noun clause, adverb clause, and adjective clause.

The different types of dependent clauses are conditional clauses and relative clauses. The conditional clause helps in describing something which is possible or probable. It begins with either “unless” or “if”.  An example of the dependent conditional clause is: “I will be back in one hour unless there is heavy traffic”.

The relative clause is associated with the main clause by some words like “that”, “which”, “whose”, “whom”, “where”, or “when”.

The relative clause can be further classified into restrictive clause and non-restrictive clause.  

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 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.

  2. 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 traveling 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.

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.


The clause is something that lies between the phrase and the sentence, and it has a subject, a definite meaning, and even the predicate. These clauses are fundamentally into two types, and they can be further classified into different types based on their usage. The clauses used in the sentence can also be recognized where some of the clauses provide complete information by acting as the sentence. Some of the clauses depend on different clauses for adding meaning to the sentence. 

FAQs on Types of Clauses

1. What is meant by Clause?

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

2. 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.

3. How can the clause be identified?

For identifying the clause, you can use the following steps. Identifying phrases or verbs that are present in the sentence, since the clause always has a minimum of one verb. Identifying conjunctions that are present, either the subordinating conjunctions or the coordinating conjunctions that help the clauses to link with one another. You must take proper care when looking for the clause since there are times when the clause might appear more than once. 

4. What is a restrictive relative clause?

The restrictive relative clause is also known as the defining relative clause. It provides the necessary information regarding the noun that comes before it. If this clause is absent, the sentence will not be completed. It is worth noting that you should not put a comma before a restrictive clause. Some of the examples of the restrictive relative clause are “Whose”, “Which”, “That”, “Whom” or “Who”.  The restrictive relative clause is widely used in sentences. 

5. What do you mean by a non-restrictive relative clause?

The non-restrictive relative clause is also known as the non-defining relative clause. It can provide additional information within the sentence which doesn’t impact the structure or the meaning of the sentence. A comma can be placed or added in front of these clauses. Excluding that you can sue whom, whose, who, or which under this clause. The restrictive relative clause is more critical to the meaning and structure of the sentence than the non-restrictive relative clause.

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