FACTOID # 8: Bookworms: Vermont has the highest number of high school teachers per capita and third highest number of librarians per capita.
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
People who viewed "Clause" also viewed:


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > Clause

In grammar, a clause is a word or group of words ordinarily consisting of a subject and a predicate, although in some languages and some types of clauses, the subject may not appear explicitly. (This is especially common in null subject languages.) The most basic kind of sentence consists of a single clause; more complicated sentences may contain multiple clauses. Indeed, it is possible for one clause to contain another. For the surname, see Grammer. ... The subject of a sentence is one of the two main parts of a sentence, the other being the predicate. ... In linguistics and logic, a predicate is an expression that can be true of something. ... A null subject language, in linguistic typology, is a language whose grammar permits a null subject, that is, the omission of an explicit subject in main clauses. ... In linguistics, a sentence is a unit of language, characterised in most languages by the presence of a finite verb. ...

Clauses are often contrasted with phrases. Traditionally, a clause was said to have both a finite verb and its subject, whereas a phrase either contained a finite verb but not its subject (in which case it is a verb phrase) or did not contain a finite verb. Hence, "I didn't know that the dog ran through the yard", "that the dog ran through the yard" is a clause, as is the sentence as a whole, while "the yard", "through the yard", "ran through the yard", and "the dog" are all phrases. Modern linguists do not draw quite the same distinction, however, the main difference being that modern linguists accept the idea of a non-finite clause, a clause that is organized around a non-finite verb. Look up phrase in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A finite verb is a verb that is inflected for person and for tense according to the rules and categories of the languages it occurs in. ... linguistics, a verb phrase or VP is a syntactic structure composed of the predicative elements of a sentence and functions in providing information about the subject of the sentence. ... The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter. ... A non-finite verb is not limited by the person, tense and number of the subject. ...


Dependent and independent clauses

Clauses are typically classified as either dependent or independent. An independent clause can stand alone as a complete simple sentence, whereas a dependent clause must be connected to or part of another clause. The dependent clause is then described as subordinate to a main clause, or (if it is part of a larger clause) as embedded in a matrix clause. A simple sentence contains one subject and one verb. ...

Examples in English include the following: The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...

  • "I went to the store" (independent)
  • "because I went to the store" (dependent)
  • "after I went to the store" (dependent)
  • "me to go to the store" (dependent; non-finite), as in "He wanted me to go to the store."
  • "that I went to" (dependent), as in "That's the store that I went to."


Functions of dependent clauses

One major way to classify dependent clauses is by function; that is, by the roles they play in the clauses they are subordinate to. Since the same dependent clause might have different roles in different sentences, this classification must be applied on a per-sentence basis.

Under this classification scheme, there are three main types of dependent clauses: noun clauses, adjective clauses, and adverb clauses, so called for their syntactic and semantic resemblance to noun phrases, adjective phrases, and adverbials, respectively. The exact uses of each vary somewhat from language to language, but a noun clause typically acts as the subject of a verb or as the object of a verb or preposition, as in these English examples: In linguistics, a noun phrase is a phrase whose Head is a noun. ... An adjective phrase tells which one, what kind of, or how many - about the noun or pronoun it modifies. ... In linguistics, an adverbial is a sentence function like subject and object and so on. ... The subject of a sentence is one of the two main parts of a sentence, the other being the predicate. ... An object in grammar is a sentence element and part of the sentence predicate. ...

  • "What you say is not as important as how you say it."
  • "I imagine that they're having a good time."
  • "I keep thinking about what happened yesterday."

(Incidentally, note that the word that is actually optional in the second sentence, highlighting a complication in the entire dependent/independent contrast: "They're having a good time" is a complete sentence, and therefore an independent clause, but in "I imagine they're having a good time", it acts as a dependent clause.)

An adjective clause modifies a noun phrase. In English, adjective clauses typically come at the end of their noun phrases:

  • "The woman I spoke to said otherwise."
  • "We have to consider the possibility that he's lying to us."

An adverb clause typically modifies its entire main clause. In English, it usually precedes or follows its main clause:

  • "When she gets here, all will be explained."
  • "He was having a death plague that farted his bjukes in bed, which was unfortunate, but unavoidable."

Nonetheless, sometimes the line between categories is blurry, and in some languages it can be difficult to apply these classifications at all. Sometimes, more than one interpretation is possible, as in the English sentence "We saw a movie, after which we went dancing", where "after which we went dancing" can be seen either an adjective clause ("We saw a movie. After the movie, we went dancing.") or as an adverb clause ("We saw a movie. After we saw the movie, we went dancing."). More complicated, sometimes the two interpretations are not synonymous, but both are intended, as in "Let me know when you're ready", where "when you're ready" functions both as a noun clause (the object of know, identifying what knowledge is to be conveyed) and as an adverb clause (specifying when the knowledge is to be conveyed).

Structures of dependent clauses

The other major way to classify dependent clauses is by their structure, though even this classification scheme does make some reference to the clause's function in a sentence. This scheme is more complex, as there are many different ways that a dependent clause can be structured. In English, common structures include:

  • Many dependent clauses, such as "before he comes" or "because they agreed", consist of a preposition-like subordinating conjunction, plus what would otherwise be an independent clause. These clauses act much like prepositional phrases, and are either adjective clauses or adverb clauses, with many being able to function in either capacity.
  • Relative clauses, such as "which I couldn't see", generally consist of a relative pronoun, plus a clause in which the relative pronoun plays a part. Relative clauses usually function as adjective clauses, but occasionally they function as adverb clauses; in either case, they modify their relative pronoun's antecedent, and follow the phrase or clause that they modify.
  • Fused relative clauses, such as "what she did" (in the sense of "the thing she did"), are like ordinary relative clauses except that they act as noun clauses; they incorporate their subjects into their relative pronouns.
  • Declarative content clauses, such as "that they came", usually consist of the conjunction that plus what would otherwise be an independent clause, or of an independent clause alone (with an implicit preceding that). For this reason, they are often called that clauses. Declarative content clauses refer to states of affairs; it is often implied that the state of affairs is the case, as in "It is fortunate that they came", but this implication is easily removed by the context, as in "It is doubtful that they came."
  • Interrogative content clauses, such as "whether they came" and "where he went" (as in "I don't know where he went"), are much like declarative ones, except that they are introduced by interrogative words. Rather than referring to a state of affairs, they refer to an unknown element of a state of affairs, such as one of the participants (as in "I wonder who came") or even the truth of the state (as in "I wonder whether he came").
  • Small clauses, such as "him leave" (as in "I saw him leave") and "him to leave" (as in "I wanted him to leave"), are minimal predicate structures, consisting only of an object and an additional structure (usually an infinitive), with the latter being predicated to the former by a controlling verb or preposition.

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with adposition. ... A subordinating conjunction, also called a dependent word or subordinator, is a word that joins a dependent clause and an independent clause. ... A prepositional phrase (PP) is a linguistic term for a phrase whose head is a preposition. ... A relative clause is a subordinate clause that modifies a noun. ... A relative pronoun is a pronoun that marks a relative clause within a larger sentence. ... In grammar, a content clause is a subordinate clause that provides content implied by, or commented upon by, its main clause. ... In linguistics, an interrogative word is a function word used to introduce an interrogative clause. ... Small clauses are minimal predicate structures: they possess arguments and predicates but no tense. ... In grammar, the infinitive is the form of a verb that has no inflection to indicate person, number, mood or tense. ...

See also

  Results from FactBites:
clause: Definition and Much More from Answers.com (941 words)
In grammar, a clause is a group of words consisting of a subject and a predicate, although, in non-finite clauses, the subject is often not explicitly given.
A clause is either a whole sentence or in effect a sentence-within-a-sentence.
Dependent clauses are often classified by which part of speech they function as: a noun clause functions as a noun, an adjective clause functions as an adjective, and an adverb clause functions as an adverb.
Clauses: the Essential Building-Blocks (1914 words)
In a relative clause, the relative pronoun is the subject of the verb (remember that all clauses contain a subject-verb relationship) and refers to (relates to) something preceding the clause.
The ability to recognize a clause and to know when a clause is capable of acting as an independent unit is essential to correct writing and is especially helpful in avoiding sentence fragments and run-on sentences.
When the clause begins with a subordinating word, it is no longer an independent clause; it is called a dependent or subordinate clause because it depends on something else (the independent clause) for its meaning.
  More results at FactBites »



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m