All terms

What is a Clause?

A group of words containing a subject and a predicate.

Breaking Down Sentences: Understanding Clauses

When we write sentences, we are usually expressing complete thoughts. However, sometimes we need to express more complex thoughts, and this is where clauses come in. A clause consists of a group of related words with a subject, a predicate, or both. A subject is a noun or pronoun that performs the action of the sentence, while the predicate contains the verb and any other modifiers that describe the subject.

There are two types of clauses: dependent and independent. Independent clauses are sentences that can stand alone, while dependent clauses cannot. Dependent clauses add detail and context to independent clauses, giving readers a better sense of the relationship between the various elements in the sentence. Additionally, dependent clauses can only function as part of a larger sentence, making them essential tools in expressive writing and storytelling.

Because clauses are such an important part of the English language, it's important to learn how to use them correctly. By breaking down sentences and identifying the different clauses within them, you can better understand the structures of sentences and how they contribute to overall meaning. This knowledge is essential in both creative writing and academic composition, as it helps writers to create clear, concise, and impactful prose.

Examining Clauses in Literature

Clarity and precision in writing are essential, and skilled writers understand how to use clauses to clarify and deepen the meaning of their work. Here are two examples of how writers have used clauses in their literary works.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

In Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, the sentence 'There she blows!-there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill!' contains two independent clauses that are separated by a dash, giving the reader a sense of the excitement and urgency of the moment.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen uses dependent clauses to great effect in Pride and Prejudice. For example, when Elizabeth first meets Mr. Darcy, she notes that he has 'a very satirical eye', which helps to establish his character and personality.