There are two types of subordinate or dependent clauses discussed in this brief tutorial: those headed by an adverbial subordinate conjunction and those headed by a relative pronoun (adjectival subordinate conjunction). Adverbial subordinate clauses modify, or give information about the verb in the main clause. Adjectival subordinate clauses modify a noun in the main clause.
Subordinate clauses are generally characterized by the following:
– a sentenced embedded within (or attached to) a sentence
– introduced by a subordinate conjunction or relative pronoun
– contain a subject and a verb
– do not form a complete thought
– used to embellish (or provide more information about) the main clause.
Below is a list of commonly used adverbial subordinate conjunctions.
temporal: after, as, as soon as, before, earlier, finally, meanwhile, next, once, then, when, whenever, while, until
causal: because, in order that, since, so that, such that,
condition: if, whether, provided that, in case, unless
contrast: although, as if, even if, even though, rather than, than, though, where, whereas
(1) and (2) are examples of subordinate clauses headed by adverbial subordinate conjunctions.
(1) Clark Kent decided to buy a Harley, although he already owned a Zero S ZF7.2.
Main Clause Subordinate Clause
The main clause, ‘Clark Kent decided to buy a Harley’ forms a complete thought. The subordinate clause ‘although he already owned a Zero S ZF7.2’ provides information about the verb ‘decide’ in the main clause, however is not a complete sentence on its own. Note that the subordinate clause is headed by the conjunction ‘although’.
(2) Unless she could bring her German Shepherd with her, Lois would not travel to Paris.
Subordinate Clause Main Clause
The main clause, ‘Lois would not travel to Paris’ forms a complete thought. The subordinate clause ‘unless she could bring her German Shepherd with her’ provides more information about the verb ‘travel’, however is not a complete sentence on its own. Note that the subordinate clause is headed by the conjunction ‘unless’.
Here is a list of commonly used adjectival (relative pronouns) subordinate conjunctions.
that, which, whichever, who, whoever, whom, whose, whosever, whomever
(3) and (4) are examples of subordinate clauses headed by adverbial subordinate conjunctions, or relative pronouns.
(3) The postman, who lives down the street, won the lottery last week.
‘The postman won the lottery last week’ is the main clause, which forms a complete thought. ‘Who lives down the street’ modifies the noun, ‘the postman’.
(4) Larry reprimanded Theodore, whose dog dug a hole in his flower bed.
‘Larry reprimanded Theodore’ is the main clause. ‘Whose dog dug a hole in his flower bed’ embellishes (or gives additional information about) the noun ‘Theodore’.