Subordinate Clauses



Review: Main Clauses

A main clause is any BSP or any BSP + its bound modifiers.

Two other important definitions:


FORMATION OF FREE MODIFIERS:

We will be studying the following structures: subordinate clauses, verb clusters, adjective clusters, noun clusters, absolutes, free relative clauses. These clauses and phrases are known as free modifiers because they are outside the BSP kernel clause; they are normally set off from the main clause with a comma.

Formation of Subordinate Clauses:

To make a subordinate clause, add a clause subordinator to the beginning of any main clause; then supply a new main clause to support it.

Jim arrived early.
Since Jim arrived early,
Since Jim arrived early, he didn't have to wait.

Clause Subordinators: after, although, as, because, before, even though, if, once, since, though, unless, until, when

More Examples:

Constance sighed.
When Constance sighed,
When Constance sighed, the other people in the room turned to see who had done it.

The dog barked incessantly at night.
Because the dog barked incessantly at night,
Because the dog barked incessantly at night, the neighbors finally lodged a complaint with the town board.

Detecting Subordinate Clauses

When you are analyzing the sentence structure of a passage, you can pay attention to the writer's use of subordinate clauses. To find them, look for one of the clause subordinators listed above. Then look at the words following the subordinator. If they would be a main clause by themselves, then you have found a subordinate clause. If they form only a phrase or if there is only a single word after the subordinator, then you do not have a subordinate clause: usually you are looking at a prepositional phrase.

Notice the paragraph just above this one. It contains the following subordinate clauses:

When you are analyzing the sentence structure of a passage,

If they would be a main clause by themselves,

If they form only a phrase

if there is only a single word after the subordinator,

Let's now mark that same paragraph to highlight the sentences which contain subordinate clauses and to emphasize the subordinate clauses themselves. In this example, I have italicized the sentences that have subordinate clauses, and I have boldfaced the subordinate clauses themselves.

When you are analyzing the sentence structure of a passage, you can pay attention to the writer's use of subordinate clauses. To find them, look for one of the clause subordinators listed above. Then look at the words following the subordinator. If they would be a main clause by themselves, then you have found a subordinate clause. If they form only a phrase or if there is only a single word after the subordinator, then you do not have a subordinate clause: usually you are looking at a prepositional phrase.

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