Independent clause

Rex barks. [INDEPENDENT CLAUSE, also called a MAIN CLAUSE]

An independent clause has:

An independent clause does not have:

  • a subordinator or a relative pronoun at the beginning [“I did my homework” is a independent clause. “When I did my homework” is not an independent clause. “I got that at the mall” is a complete sentence. “that I got at the mall” is not an independent clause.]

Rex || barks.

An independent clause is a complete sentence in and of itself. It can “stand alone.”

Independent clauses:
Rex barks.
Rex chases the cat.
Rex seems hungry.

Independent clauses inside compound sentences:
Rex barks, and he growls.
Rex || barks, and he || growls.
Rex [SUBJECT] barks [FINITE VERB], and he [SUBJECT] growls [FINITE VERB].

Rex barks, and Tigger meows.
Rex || barks, and Tigger || meows.
Rex [SUBJECT] barks [FINITE VERB], and Tigger [SUBJECT] meows [FINITE VERB].

Each one of the clauses in the compound sentences above has a subject and a finite verb, so each on can “stand alone” as a complete sentence:
Rex barks.
He growls.
Tigger meows.

Independent clauses inside complex sentences:
When the postman comes, Rex barks.
Rex is chasing the cat that belongs to my next door neighbor.
Rex seems hungry although I just fed him.

When the postman comes,” “that belongs to my next door neighbor,” and “although I just fed him” are all dependent clauses.  They must be attached to an independent clause in order to be grammatically correct.

They cannot “stand alone.”

Richard Nordquist defines “clause
Identifying Independent and Dependent Clauses (OWL)
Clauses (Richard Nordquist at
The Main Clause (chompchomp)
Dependent Clauses: Adverbial, Adjectival, Nominal (Towson)
Clauses and Sentences (Internet Grammar of English)
Sierra College Handout – Combining clauses – Subordinators & relative pronouns

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