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Topic 2: Dependent Clauses

The inverse of independent clauses, dependent clauses do not make sense by themselves and need to be “propped up” by an independent clause to be grammatically correct.


  • Dependent clause:
    • A dependent clause is an incomplete sentence. It “depends” on an independent clause. 
    • These are incomplete sentences because they are not complete thoughts. Since it is not a complete thought, it does not make sense on its own. To make it a complete thought and a complete sentence, we need to add more to the sentence, like those parts of speech we talked about in the last section: subjects, verbs, and objects.
    • It is important to remember that, if we do not change the dependent clause, it will need an independent clause to be correct.

The following two clauses are dependent:

  • Because I forgot to buy my textbooks. 
  • When the textbooks arrived. 

Here is what those clauses look like when they are corrected by adding an independent clause:

  • Because I forgot to buy my textbooks, I was not able to complete my first assignment on time. 
  • I was finally able to start on my assignment when the textbooks arrived. 

These are complete, grammatically correct sentences.


Now you are finally ready to read it: when they do not have an independent clause tied to them, dependent clauses are fragments.

Your Turn: Test Your Understanding!