GRMR 2 - Clause Analysis

Clause is a group of words containing a finite verb.   Unlike phrases, they communicate complete meaning.  To understand lengthy sentences it is necessary to study the clauses closely. For example

Theoretically it can serve as [a source] of ideas and insights which are of particular relevance for the formulation of principles: ideas emerging from disciplines devoted to the sudy of language and learning which might bear upon the definition of language as subject

Adopted from Longman english grammar of spoken and written english

There are two types of clauses: Independent clauses and dependent clauses. 

A. Independent Clauses / Main Clauses
Independent clauses / main clauses can stand by themselves as complete sentences. An independent clause contains a subject and a predicate and makes complete sense.
 1. The letters are types and  the files are in order
 In the above example, there are two independent clauses.
 2. I have finished the report but  have not written the report.
 In the above example, the subject ‘I’ is understood in the second clause.

Clauses are connected in three ways: Coordination, Subordination, and by a Semicolon.

Coordination means joining independent clauses with the use of a coordinating conjuction. (for, or, noy, yet, so and but).
1. Rita thought about joining the dance class, but she did not speak to her parents about it
2. I was told not to interfere or I would certainly have solved the matter 
3. My mother told me sleep a little longer for it was still dark

Subordination means making a subordinate clause with the use of subordinating conjunction. When the clause starts with a subordinating conjunction, it is  called a subordinate or a dependent clause because it depends on the independent clause for its meaning.
1. Although Rita often thought about joining the dance class, she did not speak to her parents about it.
2. Rita did not speak to her parents about joining the dance class, because she was afraid they would reprimand her.
3. Yash, who is Rita’s brother, told Rita to join the dance class no matter what their parents said.

Semicolons connect two independent clauses Semicolons are used only when the two independent clauses are closely related.

1. Rita sings melodiously; her teacher asks her to sing at the annual programme
2. Rita’s dance has a breathtaking, mystical quality; besides, she evidently enjoys dancing in that way

B. Dependent Clauses / Subordinate Clauses

Dependent Clauses / Subordinate Clauses cannot stand by themselves as they do not make complete sense. Therefore, they have to be combined with an independent clause in order to form a sentence.
Example: Ravi recognised the woman who was standing in the garden.
In the above example the colored sentence cannot stand on its own. It depends on the previous clause for its meaning.

Types of Dependent Clauses:

1. Adjective Clause

Adjective clause modifies a noun or a pronoun. It begins with a relative pronoun like whose, who, whom, that and which OR a subordinate conjunction like where and when.
 1. That is the man who scolded Gopal.
 2. The Lion which was caged has escaped.
 3. The car which he had bought us was green
The adjective clause must be placed very close to the word modified by it. If the adjective clause is misplaced, the sentence becomes confusing to the reader.
 Incorrect: He rode the cycle in the garden which was bought by his father.
 Correct:   He rode the cycle, which was bought by his father, in the garden.

In the above example, the misplaced word “which” gives an impression that the garden was bought by his father. The sentence can be corrected by placing “which” before the adjective clause.

2. Adverb Clause

An adverb clause is a subordinate clause that functions like an adverb. It answers the questions like where, when, why, under what conditions and with what results.
An adverb clause modifies an adverb, verb or an adjective in the main clause.
1.   Adverb clause of time (tll, after, when etc)
  I will write the assignment after I read the instructions care fully
2.   Adverb clause of place (whereas, where, etc)
  You can tell him where to meet you
3.   Adverb clause of supposition (though, even if, although etc)
  Although he smiled, he was angry
4.   Adverb clause of cause/reason (so that, inorder that etc)
  He called me yesterday so that he could know the details of the meeting
5.    Adverb clause of condition (whether, if etc)
  If they offer you a better salary, you should join them immediately
6.    Adverb clause of consequence (that etc.)
  He hit the ball so hard that it landed outside the  stadium
7.    Adverb clause of comparison (than, as, etc)
  He is stronger than I (am)              

3. Noun Clause

A noun clause is a subordinate clause that functions as a noun. A noun clause can be a predicate, subject, nominative, appositive, direct object, object of preposition or an indirect object.
Useful Hint:  Substitute “something or someone” in the place of the clause. If the meaning is clear then it is a noun clause.
 1. I hope I pass the test. [I hope “something” , here the sentence still making sense]
 2. He wanted to know what had taken place in the market.  3. He does not understand what you speak.
In the above examples, the words in colored text act as nouns as they are the objects of a verb. A noun clause can take the place of a subject, object or a complement of the subject.
Certain clauses can act in all the three ways. Thus, a noun clause is identified by its function in the sentence.
 1. Why he did not arrive is the question. (Subject of a verb)
 2. We have said that this is not the right way. (Object of a transitive verb).
 3. Pay attention to what the teacher is saying (Object of a preposition)
 4. His conviction that she would stand first at the examination encouraged her to study harder. (In opposition to noun/pronoun).
 5. My conviction is that she would stand first. (Complement of a verb).
 6. We are sorry that you missed your train. (After an intransitive verb ‘to be’)

4.  Non - Finite Clause / Participal Clause

(Some formal english grammarians consider this clause as a phrase as it doest not contain a Finite verb.  But modern english grammarians recognise it as a clause)
The participle verb introduces a clause that is dependent on the main part of the sentence. It plays an important role in showing the action that was taking place at the time the main action takes place.
 1. While trying to catch the moving train, the hawker dropped his wares.
 2. Fabricating a story about his illness, the old man asked for more money.
 3. Tired from studying all afternoon, she went for a walk.

5.  Verbless clauses

Among non-finite clauses we may  also  include verbless clauses  such as:
 1. She had  also been  taught, when  in difficulty,  to think  of a good  life  to imitate.
 2.  Although  not  a classic,  this 90-minute video  is worth watching. 
 3.  Every day,  if possible,  reat atleast 2 english news papers
 4. Not a classic, this 90- minute  video  is  worth  watching. 
Verb less clauses are very common in speech rather than in formal written english.