What is an independent clause, English

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What is an independent clause? How does it compare to a sentence?

A clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb.

If the group of words creates a complete idea, the clause is a sentence. A complete sentence with one clause is called an independent clause, because it can stand alone as a complete sentence.

A sentence with one independent clause is called a simple sentence.

Examples

1. Louisa May Alcott wrote the classic book Little Women.

Louisa May Alcott is the subject; wrote is the verb; the group of words expresses a complete thought. This is an independent clause and a simple sentence.

2. Because the book was a great success.

The book is the subject; was is the verb; the group of words does not express a complete thought. This is not an independent clause.

What if the clause has a compound subject or verb?

An independent clause can have a compound subject, verb, and/or direct object and still be one independent clause.

Examples

1. Louisa and her sisters grew up in Boston.

Louisa and her sisters is the compound subject of this sentence.

2. They played and worked together.

Played and worked is the compound verb.

3. Louisa wrote stories, poems, and plays.

Stories, poems, and plays is the compound direct object.

4. She and her sisters acted out and enjoyed her stories and plays.

She and her sisters is the compound subject. Acted out and enjoyed is the compound verb. Stories and plays is the compound direct object.

The above sentences are all simple sentences, because they have only one independent clause.

What are coordinating conjunctions? What are correlative conjunctions?

Coordinating conjunctions are used to join the parts of compound elements.

The coordinating conjunctions are and, but, yet, so, or, nor.

Sometimes more than one word is needed to express the meaning of the coordinating conjunction. In these cases we use correlative conjunctions.

The correlative conjunctions are either/or, neither/nor, both/and, not/only...but/also.

How do I use coordinating and correlative conjunctions?

The correlative conjunctions are used in the same way as coordinating conjunctions.

Example

Neither Louisa nor her sisters were wealthy.

Neither/ nor is the correlative conjunction that makes the compound subject.

What is a compound sentence?

Coordinating and correlative conjunctions can also be used to join two independent clauses. This creates a compound sentence. A compound sentence is two or more independent clauses joined by a coordinating or correlative conjunction.

Punctuating compound sentences

Occasionally, when the two sentences are closely related and the author wants to emphasize this fact, the conjunction can be left out, and a semicolon (;) can be inserted in its place.

A comma should be used before the conjunction joining the two independent clauses.

Examples

1. Louisa left home during the Civil War, and her letters to her family became the basis for a later book.

Louisa left home during the Civil War is one independent clause. Her letters to her family became the basis for another book is the second independent clause. And is the coordinating conjunction.

2. Little Women was published in 1868; its details were based on Louisa's life.

Little Women was published in 1868 is one independent clause. Its details were based on Louisa's life is the second independent clause. The semicolon replaces the conjunction.


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