Friday, September 14, 2012

Grammar terms made easier: The independent clause vs. the dependent clause

I try to keep things understandable in this blog, not getting caught up in grammar jargon and English-class speak. I've been in the editing business in one form or another for about 25 years and even I get confused when grammarians use all that jargon: reflexive pronoun, future perfect tense, dangling participle, antecedents, etc.

So, from time to time on this blog, I'll take a grammar term and try to simplify it for you.

This time, I'll discus independent clause and dependent clause.

An independent clause is a group of words that could stand on its own as a sentence.

For example, two halves of a sentence on each side of a semicolon are independent clauses because each half could stand on its own as a sentence: I rode in Dan's car; it was blue.

Here's another example: She will visit us if she can.

The part She will visit us is an independent clause because it could stand on its own as a sentence. But the part if she can is a dependent clause because it can't stand on its own as a sentence - it is dependent on the other clause for it to make sense.

If you have any suggestions of grammar terms you would like me to simplify, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

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