Clauses

Chris Lele
Lesson by Chris Lele
Magoosh Expert
Learn More About Magoosh SAT
In this video we're going to start with a very important part of constructing a sentence, and that is with a clause. So clauses are the building blocks of sentences. But they're a lot more than that. And what we have here are two types of clauses. Let's start with the first one.

He was tired. Okay, what kind of clause is this, main clause or independent clause? Now, I'm gonna be telling you a lot of labels in this video, and honestly they're not that important in terms of the SAT. What is important is how these clauses and some of the conjunctions you're gonna learn later.

How they affect the structure of the sentence and wether something is or is not a sentence. So the good news with he was tired, and in fact any main clause or independent clause. It is a sentence. A complete sentence.

Now you'd imagine that if I added another word, it wouldn't take away the sentence. desensitize it if you will. But, as indeed what happens in the English language, you can add a word here, and if it happens to be a certain word, then you can make this, what is called, a dependent clause. Another way of saying dependent clause, is not a sentence.

So, if we have, because he was tired, that is not a sentence. The way that he was tired is and therefore depends on something to come after it. We would want a comma and then an actual sentence. Now I'm gonna talk more about how we put together independent and dependent clauses in a moment. But first, let's take a look at exactly what is a clause, because these are both clauses but they are different kinds of clauses.

So a clause has a noun subject and a verb. The reason we describe it as such is because it is different from just a simple phrase. A clause again has a noun subject. Here's a he and a verb, was tired. Look at the second one.

There it is, noun subject and a verb. Of course again the second one dependent clause has that word because. And that's the difference. But you don't want to confuse this with the phrase such as that was interesting. Because there's no noun subject. So it's not a clause.

It's just a phrase. And what we care about in this video is the clause. So again, both of the above are clauses. And now I'm going to drop, I don't call it a bomb necessarily. But it's sort of like, oh really, I have to learn more and what, they're really the same thing.

Yeah,unfortunately I didn't make up the English language or all the grammar rules, all that fun stuff, but what's important to know here is that the dependent clause is also known as the subordinate clause. That's right the exact same clause, nothing different. Someone came along and said hey, let's give him two different names. Terrible idea.

However, what's important here, besides the fact that people use these interchangeably and I too will use them interchangeably, is that both touch on an important aspect of this kind of clause. And that is it depends on something else to be a complete sentence, as I talked about a second ago. And that it is subordinate, or not as important as a clause that will follow.

Let me give you an actual example. Because he was tired, he didn't come with us to the movie. Where is the dependent clause or the subordinate clause? Right here. Notice there is a comma followed by a complete sentence. He didn't come with us to the movie.

That is an independent clause. And so we have a nice complete sentence, however, going back to the idea of subordinate, the first part isn't as important as the second part. He didn't come with us to the movie, man. Total bummer. That would have been fun.

That's the main idea here. the oh because he was tired isn't that big of a deal. The point is he didn't get to the movie theater, whether it was bad traffic, he was sick or tired. He didn't get to see the flick. So therefore we want to say things not as important, we'll put it over here, throw the because in front of it.

And it has been subordinate. Now that sounds maybe a little complex, and I promise the SAT isn't gonna test you at that subtle of a level but it's important to know why these names exist in the first place. What the SAT will test you on though is whether something is a sentence or not a sentence.

And if it pretends that something is a sentence, gives it a full stop and it's not, well then hopefully this video will help you identify that. So let's start with putting together and Independent Clause and a Dependent Clause. The varsity team lots its first game of the season, comma, since the star player was sick. That is a complete sentence because you have the independent clause, followed by a dependent clause, which is since the star player was sick.

That is fine, that is a complete sentence. You can basically reverse this parts of the sentence around and say, since the star player was sick, comma, the varsity team lost it's first game of the season. That's what we have here in the second case. Start with a dependent clause.

Put it together with an independent clause, and bam, you have a sentence. Because the snow season still had not ended, the first game of the season was postponed. Fine and dandy. Complete sentence. But what happens when we put two dependent clauses together?

We run into some trouble specifically we have something that is not a sentence check out this monstrosity of meaning. Since Mike injured himself last because he didn't stretch. Wait, what? Not a complete sentence why because these words here these and I'm gonna tell you what they are in a moment but these words make it so that this is a dependent clause.

So you put two dependent clauses together and bam, you no longer have a sentence. So you might be asking huh, all I have to do is get rid of that first word there in each of them and la dee da, I have two independent clauses which must equal a sentence. But no, two independent clauses, and this is actually the one the test is going to try to get you on because this tends to sound absolutely fine.

The team practiced before the big game, they won easily. Hey, no one's gonna arrest me for bad grammar. Think again actually. This is called a comma splice. What that means is If you put together two independent clauses and separate them with just the comma, nothing else, just that comma then that is not a complete sentence, and the test is gonna test you on that quite often.

The reason is because it sounds fine, it seems to flow. But it is a violation of the grammatical rules. What you need here is a full stop, a period, a semicolon, or a comma and a conjunction, which is the fifth case we have here. Independent clause, conjunction, independent clause. Boom, there's the conjunction, so.

There's the comma, therefore we are back in the territory of sentences. So if you can identify that, you are fine. Also here we have a conjunction and an independent clause. What happens then? Well, I've actually taken you back full circle. And you might recognise this sentence right here.

Because he was tired. That's what we first started with, dependent clause and that word, because. Now, a few moments ago I didn't want to tell you exactly what because was, I just said that word. You may have remembered that a moment ago. And the reason is I'm gonna talk about what kind of word because is right now.

And because is known as a subordinating conjunction. Probably not that big of a surprise and we're coming back to that word again, subordinate. Remember subordinate clause. Exact same thing as dependent clause. But now we've moved from clauses to conjunctions and guess what word we're going to use to describe a conjunction that when you put it in front of a fine and dandy sentence makes it a subordinate clause, well, a subordinating conjunction.

Again, I want to stress that this is not going to be a question on the SAT. Which of the following is subordinating conjunction? However, you must be able to identify them as Subordinating conjunctions. Or even maybe give them your own initials, SC. But the point is you have to know their function, what they actually do and don't do in a sentence.

Or in this case, in a non sentence, so what subordinating conjunctions do is they provide a reason. Because, since, due to, as a result. We've seen all of these before. Here's a example. Since she is so over Katy Perry, she is not going to the concert.

This is a complete sentence and notice that it starts again with that subordinating conjunction. You could also put because there. Doesn't matter. But if you had that underlying part just by itself, it would not be a complete sentence.

Subordinating conjunctions can also provide a time. Such as when or whenever. We see this all the time. Whenever I open the refrigerator, I suddenly get hungry. Again the underlying part, dependent clause, cannot stand alone. Needs the independent clause.

Subordinating conjunctions can also provide a condition. Such as, if, and the thing about this, and I know this is not necessarily technical but sometimes a little bit overly complex condition. Think of it as just as this, subordinate conjunctions. They're up there. The because, the whens, and the ifs. That put together a dependant clause with an independent clause.

And again, you're not going to have identify the different kinds of subordinating conjunctions on the test, in terms of what they are called. You just have to know how they are used in a sentence. Speaking of which, we have a final one here. Which is as a contrast. You can also have this, whereas her sister, Maggie, would rather not get up off of the couch.

Again, by itself, dependant clause cannot be a sentence. You need that independent clause. And there you have it. Now what we're gonna do in the next video is build off of this knowledge of clauses and subordinating conjunctions, and we're gonna learn about a whole different set of conjunction.

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