Most sentence punctuation rules are based on the absence, the presence, and the location of the two types of clauses: independent and dependent. Obviously, then, we can’t start punctuating unless we can identify independent and dependent clauses.
This video is pretty fabulous—-
If you’re new to subordinate clauses, you’ll have to watch it a couple of times.
In her book The Writing Life (1989), Annie Dillard tells the story of a fellow writer who was asked by a student, “Do you think I could be a writer?” ” ‘Well,’ the writer said, ‘do you like sentences?'”
Writing is made of sentences (and sentences are made of clauses).
A list with examples from Pasadena City College
SVA = Subject + Verb + Adverbial
Elephants live here.
Elephants [SUBJECT] live [VERB] here. [ADVERBIAL]
In SVA sentences, the adverbial is required; without it, the sentence is grammatically incomplete:
Elephants live ??
Adverbs and adverbials are optional in the other 6 sentence patterns. You can include adverbials in any sentence you like, but the only sentence pattern that requires an adverbial is the SVA.
Traditional grammars organize sentences into 4 categories:
- Simple sentence
- Compound sentence
- Complex sentence
- Compound-complex sentence
A complex sentence has just one independent clause and at least one dependent clause:
Rex barks when the postman comes.
Rex barks [INDEPENDENT CLAUSE] when the postman comes [DEPENDENT CLAUSE].
Rex [SUBJECT] barks [FINITE VERB]
when [DEPENDENT MARKER WORD] the postman [SUBJECT] comes [VERB]
• Richard Nordquist defines “clause“
• Identifying Independent and Dependent Clauses (OWL)
• Clauses (Richard Nordquist at about.com)
• The Main Clause (chompchomp)
• Dependent Clauses: Adverbial, Adjectival, Nominal (Towson)
• Clauses and Sentences (Internet Grammar of English)