What are Clauses in English Grammar with Types of Clauses?

Let’s learn Clause!

What are Clauses in English Grammar with Types of Clauses?

What are clauses in English grammar along with various types of clauses are captured to have a clear understanding as well as a clear concept!

Let’s explore clauses!

What are Clauses in English Grammar

What is a Clause in Grammar?

In the English language, the clause plays a significant role. Clauses help us to construct our speeches in a much more comprehensive manner.

  • The clause means simply a group of words, which has one criterion.
  • The criterion is that a clause consists of a verb, mainly a finite verb, and a subject.
  • A clause can act as a noun or adjective or adverb.

Clause Definition in Grammar

We can define clauses in a very simple manner. A clause is defined as a sentence in which there will be a finite verb and a subject.

what are clauses English grammar definition types examples
What are clauses English grammar definition types examples

Note the followings,

  • The tense of the action will determine the verb form.
  • But sometimes, the function of this sentence changes with the context.
  • A clause must contain only one subject and only one verb.
  • The verb in a clause should always be clear.
  • The subject in a clause may be clear or sometimes hidden.

Clause Examples in Grammar

Let’s try to understand the clause with examples.


  • Rohan told the police what happened yesterday.


In the above example, we see,

  • What —-> Subject
  • Happened —–> Verb

Basically, Rohan told the police an event, hence, this represents a noun and it is a clause. It can represent adjectives or adverbs as well.

Types of Clauses

In English grammar, primarily clauses are divided into two categories:

  • The principal clause or main clause or independent clause
  • The subordinate clause or dependent clause

Much like different types of sentences, clauses can also be divided into different sections.

Based on the type of sentences, clauses are divided into four parts:

  • The main clause or principal clause
  • The subordinate clause or dependent clause
  • The adjective clause
  • The noun clause

So, what are the functions and differences between these different clauses?

This is what this post is all about. Here, I will be telling you the definition and examples of all these different clauses along with their examples for a better understanding.

Let’s take a look at them one by one.

Description of Clause Types

The Principal Clause or Independent Clause

The principal clause or independent clause is characterized by a sentence that consists of a subject and a finite verb. Another very important aspect of this clause is that they are never dependent on another clause, and they can form their own meaning.

  • They are able to present one single idea, a single piece of information, or a single thought.
  • Whenever we wish to modify this thought, we need the help of another clause, i.e., we call the subordinate clause.
  • As mentioned earlier, the principal clause will have a subject and a finite verb and will give you a complete sentence that makes sense.

Let’s look at a few examples of the principal clause:

  • He is a nice man.
  • The boy has an orange shirt.
  • They came with a basket full of fruits.
  • The camel is the ship of the desert.
  • Rahul is an engineer.

As you can see above, all the sentences consist of a single finite verb, and they can present a complete sentence with meaning and conveys an idea or information. Moreover, they don’t need another clause to complete the meaning or information.

Some other examples can be:

  • Close the door, please. (Here the subject is hidden)
  • I saw the whole film alone.
  • I wish to get a new car, but I don’t have enough savings. (Two independent clauses)
  • He went abroad and studied at Cambridge. (In this sentence, the subject of the second clause is “he”, so “studied at Cambridge” can be treated as an independent clause)
  • John moves his hair whenever he sees me. (One independent clause)

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The Subordinate Clause 

The main difference between a subordinate clause and a principal clause is that they are always dependent on the main clause to complete their meaning. Using just the subordinate clause alone is not possible since they will hardly make any sense, and the information conveyed will also be incomplete.

  • The subordinate clause can have more than one verb and even more than one idea even.
  • Often we can see that subordinate clauses feature relative pronouns, noun clause markers, and subordinating conjunctions.
  • This helps the subordinate clauses to connect with the main or principal clause and complete the sense.

Let’s look at a few examples to understand better.

  • When I was in school, I had a small accident. (”when I was in a school” is dependent on the main clause)
  • I know the boy who helped you pass the exam. (”who helped you pass the exam” is dependent on the main clause)
  • He bought a pair of new shoes, which are too costly to afford. (”which are too costly to afford” is dependent on the main clause)
  • I knew that he was not brave enough. (”that he was not brave enough” is dependent on the main clause)
  • He does not know where the girl used to live. (”where the girl used to live” is dependent on the dependent clause)
  • If you don’t give me the money, I will not go home empty-handed. (”if you don’t give me the money” is dependent on the main clause)
  • He used to be a very bright student, but now he is not focused anymore.

The Noun Clause

Much like the name suggests, the noun clause is nothing but a clause that functions as a noun in a sentence. Usually, the noun clauses are the subordinate clauses requiring the principal clause to complete the meaning and convey the information appropriately.

Let’s look at a few examples for you to understand better.

  • What I hoped to eat for dinner was some rice. (subject of the verb “was”)
  • The police told us how he committed the heinous crime. (the noun clause here is the direct object of the verb “told”)
  • Some water is what I need right now. ( Noun clause here acts as the complement of the linking verb “is”)
  • Allow to sit anyone who comes first. (Noun clause here serves as the object of the preposition “to”)

Remember, sometimes, even the pronouns can also be used for subordinate clauses.

Adjective Clause

Lastly, we have the adjective clause that is also used as another subordinate clause. Much like the noun clause, the adjective clause functions as an adjective in a sentence.

  • But being a subordinate clause, they will always be dependent on the main clause and needs the principal clause to form the meaning or convey the information.
  • These clauses usually start with a relative pronoun.
  • They can be like whom, who, which, or that. Sometimes, they can also contain a relative adverb like where, when, or why.

Let’s look at a few examples for better understanding:

  • He is the boy whom Madam Jones hit in the back with a stick.

“Whom” = relative pronoun; “Madam Jones” = subject; “hit” = verb.

  • This is the place where they feel the happiest.

“Where” = relative adverb; “they” = subject; “feel” = verb.

  • Here is the glass that had slipped from my hand and smashed on the floor.

“That” = relative pronoun; “slipped” = verbs.

  • It isn’t easy to find someone who doesn’t love ice cream!

“Who” = relative pronoun; “love” = verb.

Clause Examples Table with Types

Name of Clauses Sentence Examples Clause
Principal clause or main clause or independent clause I want to buy a computer, but I don’t have money. ‘’I want to buy a computer’’ and ‘’ I don’t have money’’ both are clauses and both are independent.
Subordinate clause or dependent clause Minu knew the girl who won the match.


‘’ who won the match’’ is a subordinate clause and it depends on the main or dependent clause.
Adjective clause She is the girl whom the teacher advises to study more. ‘’whom teacher advises’’ is an adjective clause, teacher is subject and advice is a verb.
Noun clause My father’s achievement in life is that he helped a lot of people. ‘that he helped a lot of people’’ is a noun clause. He is a noun and help is a verb.


So, there you have it, the four types of clauses in the English language along with their examples for your better understanding as well as to learn English properly.

Sincerely study the examples, and you will understand the concept easily. Should you have any further queries, feel free to reach out!

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