Clauses 2

Continuing from Part 1 of the article on clauses: Let us now look at complex sentences. A complex sentence is one that has a Main (or independent) clause (an independent clause is something that can form sentences on their own and are finite) along with subordinate (or dependent) clauses (These cannot form sentences on their own.)

Look at some examples below. The parts in bold are the main clauses (can work as independent sentences while the parts in italics are dependent clauses (do not work as independent sentences)

  • If I go to his office will he be available?
  • He went on to win the Olympics and the world cup before meeting the love of his life and settling down in Spain.
  • He had a car and lots of money when he was working.

When you are reading for main idea, it is important to be able to identify the independent clause within a sentence.

Remember: The first clause in a sentence is not always the independent clause.

How to identify and how to write dependent clauses?

Here are a few examples of dependent clauses. These will give you an idea of what to look for when you are trying to identify these and also give you an understanding of how to write them when you are appearing for exams like IELTS, PTE, TOEFL, and OET.

Remember: In most English tests, being able to use complex sentences (independent clause, along with a depended clause) is one of the requirements of scoring well!

  • When the time comes
  • Than when he was young
  • Until the sun sets
  • While the war continues
  • As they were walking
  • Where they wanted to go
  • How he managed to do that
  • Before the results come out
  • Whenever you come home
  • Although he never really understood why
  • Which is why they failed
  • That you wanted
  • Considering they wanted it badly
  • Whom we met
  • Who is always on time

Let us now look at a sample paragraph – and see how focusing on the main clause will help us understand it better.

Back in 2017, a team of scientists was able to pinpoint the origin of a repeating fast radio burst to a dwarf galaxy over 3 billion light years away. Now, researchers were able trace yet another cosmic radio burst’s home galaxy — and this discovery is even more impressive than the first, seeing as it was a single radio burst that happened only once, not a repeating one. (68 words)

This can be summed up in the following manner:

Back in 2017, a team of scientists was able to pinpoint the origin of a repeating fast radio burst to a dwarf galaxy over 3 billion light years away something. Now, researchers were able trace yet another cosmic radio burst’s home galaxy  of the same thingand this discovery is even more impressive than the first, seeing as it was a single radio burst that happened only once, not a repeating one. (31 words)

In the second version, we have simply taken away the secondary clauses and are focusing on the main clauses alone. Being able to do this will greatly help your understanding of difficult texts.

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