What is an independent clause?

From LitWiki

What is an independent clause?

An independent clause is a group of words with a subject and verb, and can stand alone making a complete sentence. However, a clause is a group of words with a subject and verb or recognized as a part of a sentence. A dependent clause is a group of words that can not stand alone or does not have a subject and verb.

  • Ways to help distinguish between independent and dependent clauses:
  • Ask these questions after reading the sentence.
  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?

For example:

Micheal Vick surpassed all expectation in the National Football League, but did not make it to the Superbowl.

  • If asked, “Who surpassed all expectations?” the answer will be Micheal Vick. Therefore, the first group of words is an independent clause and can stand alone as a complete sentence.(Micheal Vick is the subject and surpassed is the verb)
  • In the second group of words, ask, “Who did not make it?” The only way to find out who is to look back into the first group of words (Micheal Vick did not make it). Therefore, the last group of words is dependant on the first group; the last group would be considered a dependent clause.

According to Darling, Charles, Guide to Grammar and Writing, 1999, Capital Community College Foundation, March 29, 2005 { http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/} independent clauses could stand by themselves as discrete sentences, except that when they do stand by themselves, separated from other clauses, they're normally referred to simply as sentences, not clauses. The ability to recognize a clause and to know when a clause is capable of acting as an independent unit is essential to correct writing and is especially helpful in avoiding sentence fragments and run on sentence.

Combining Independent Clause

Needless to say, it is important to learn how to combine independent clauses into larger units of thought. In the following sentence, for example,

• Bob didn't mean to do it, but he did it anyway.

We have two independent clauses — "Bob didn't mean to do it" and "he did it anyway" — connected by a comma and a coordinating conjunction ("but"). If the word "but" is missing from this sentence, the sentence would be called a comma splice: two independent clauses would be incorrectly connected, smooshed together, with only a comma between them. Furthermore, a long series of clauses of similar structure and length begins to feel monotonous, leading to what is called "Dick and Jane" or primer language.

Works Cited