A clause is any group of words that has a subject and verb. This is the counterpart of a phrase which does not have a subject/verb. There are two kinds of clauses;

  • dependent (or “subordinate”) and
  • independent.

Both dependent clauses and independent clauses have their own subject and verb, but a dependent clause cannot stand on its own.  For example, the following clause is independent:

Jim drove his car over the bridge.

When a DMW is added to it, it becomes a dependent clause.

When Jim drove his car over the bridge,

The word “when” is a DMW and makes this clause dependent. It is called dependent because it must be attached to an independent clause in order for it to function as a complete thought.  Dependent clauses can function either:

When the DMW is a subordinating conjunction, the clause is usually adverbial; when the DMW is a relative pronoun, the clause is usually adjectival.   video