Clauses

If you want to read better, you will absolutely need to understand how a sentence works. This will allow us to break a sentence down into easily understandable pieces. Each of these bite-sized pieces is called a clause.

A clause is the basic unit of grammar. Usually, a main clause is made up of a subject (s) (a noun phrase) and a verb phrase (v).

[Subject]Ram [Verb]called.

This is an example of a simple sentence. However, when one is reading, we do not just encounter simple sentences. Most high-level reading passages bombard us with complex sentences.

To understand complex sentences, we will need to understand slightly more complex clauses. In such clauses the verb phrase is followed by other elements. These elements could be objects (o), complements (c), adjuncts (ad). These elements are sometimes needed to complete the meaning of the clause.

Compare the two sentences:

  • ·         I am not working.
  •          I am not working efficiently.

In the two sentences above: I will be the subject, while am not working is the verb.

In the second sentence, the word efficiently is called the complement. It adds important information to the sentence.

The first sentence says I am not working at all, while the second one says I am working but I am not doing a good job. In this sentence efficiently is essential because it completes the meaning of how I am working.

Some sentences absolutely require these additional elements. Compare these two sentences:

  • ·         The crew repaired.
  •          The crew repaired the road.

The first sentence leaves us wondering what the crew repaired. The second sentence clearly tells us what has been repaired. In this sentence, the road is called an Object.

The last remaining bit is the adjuncts. These are words that add flavour. They are not necessary to complete the clause. In other words, the meaning of the clause does not change.

  • ·         I will talk to you later
  •          He went out in a hurry

In both these sentences, the bits in bold are called adjuncts and removing those does not drastically alter the meaning of the sentence.

Remember, clauses and understanding clauses is something that will help you not just with GRE reading, but also Reading and Writing for tests like the IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, and OET. Understanding the nature of the sentences and how they work and how the readers perceive them is vital!

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