Identify the different types of Clauses – structural, and functional.

Types of Clauses

There are two types of clauses:

  • The Main clause (principal or independent clause).
  • The Subordinate clause (dependent clause).


The main clause (independent clause)

This is a clause that can function as a sentence on its own. It contains a subject, a predicate and expresses a complete thought, examples:


  • The window opened.
  • This man walked home.


The main clause can be joined by coordinating conjunction to form complex or compound sentences. Some examples of coordinating conjunctions are, and, or, but, yet, for, not, so, examples:

  • The door opened and the man walked in.
  • Jim studied hard so he passed his examination.


The dependent clause (subordinate clause)

The dependent clause is part of a sentence, but it does not make a complete statement or thought on its own. It depends on the main clause to make a complete thought, examples:

  • I wondered whether the homework was necessary.
  • They will visit you before they go to the airport.


The subordinate clause is often joined to the main clause or another subordinate clause by a subordinating conjunction or relative pronoun. Some examples of subordinating conjunctions are, after, before, since, once, whenever, whether, although, unless, while, whereas, because, wherever, if, so that, until.

Also, some examples of relative pronoun are, that, who, whole, whose, which, whoever, whichever, whom, whomever, example:

  • I bought hats which have wide brims.


Types of subordinate clause

The following are some types of subordinate clauses – the noun clause (nominal), adverbial clause, and adjectival clause.


Noun clause

This is a group of words containing a subject and a finite verb of its own. When it is removed from the sentence, the sentence can’t make meaning. It can be introduced by that, if, whether, who, whatever, who, whether, why, when, whatever, etc., examples:

  • The winner is that athlete standing near Lucy.
  • I wondered whether the homework was necessary.



A noun clause functions as a noun. These functions are as follow:

The subject of a sentence

  • What John did is strange.


Object of verb

  • I know who used the ruler.


Subject complement

  • The winner is that boy standing near the bus.


Apposition to the subject

  • The teacher, that beautiful woman in red clothes, is my mother.


Adjectival clause

The adjectival clause modifies the noun in the main clause. It describes a noun, pronoun, or noun equivalent. In essence, it provides extra information about the noun or pronoun.

When this clause is removed from a sentence, the sentence can still have complete meaning. It is a relative clause and can be introduced by the following relative pronouns, who, whom, whose, that, which, examples:

  • I went to the show that was very popular.
  • The book which I gave him is good.


Some Adjectival clauses (subordinate) are introduced by relative adverbs and can be called relative clauses. Some of these relative adverbs are, why, when, how, where, examples:

  • She was taken to the town where she was born.
  • The reason why you are here is unknown.


Adverbial clause

Adverbial clause functions as an adverb. It tells the when, why, how, and where. When it is removed from a sentence, the sentence can still have a complete thought, examples:

  • They will visit you before they go to the market.
  • I shall attend the party because it is fun.



  • Discuss the two major types of clauses.
  • Define clause.
  • Define the types of clauses.
  • Discuss their functions.
  • Provide adequate illustrations.