Independent clause masterclass

This lesson helps us understand everything about an independent clause in English.

Independent clause in English
Independent clause in English

What is a Clause in English?

A clause is a group of words that has at least one subject and a predicate. It can be independent (one that renders a complete meaning on its own) or dependent (one that depends on an independent clause as it is incomplete alone).

  1. He came to see me.
  2. Though he was ill.

The first clause is an independent clause as it gives a complete idea on its own, and the second one is a dependent clause. It does not give a complete idea.

He came to see me though he was ill.

What is an Independent Clause in English?

Independent Clause Definition: an independent clause is a group of words that has a subject and a predicate in it and gives a complete idea. In other words, it is a complete sentence. It does not depend on anything to render a complete meaning as a dependent clause does.

Your friend Riya loves me.

This is an example of an independent clause. It has a subject and a predicate and gives complete meaning on its own.

More examples of an Independent Clause

  • I love you.
  • Everything is possible.
  • All of us would like to work with you.
  • The story of the book is complex to understand.
  • There has never been a better opportunity to start our own business.
  • Life is simple.
  • You know me better than my own family.

Independent clause and compound sentence

A compound sentence is a combination of two independent clauses added with a coordinating conjunction. Here are the 7 coordinating conjunctions in English: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so (FANBOYS).

I love my students, and I want to see the do well in life.

Independent clause 1: I love my students
Independent clause 2: I want to see the do well in life
Coordinating conjunction: and

Notice both clauses are complete and give a proper meaning separately.

More examples:

  • I want to help you, but I don’t have money.
  • The company was facing huge losses, so it cut off some employees.
  • Simran did not come to the office, for she had a high fever.
  • He had so many friends, yet nobody helped him.
  • The food was delicious, and everyone finished it within a minute.

Independent clause vs Dependent clause

A dependent clause is contrary to an independent clause, as the name suggests. It has a subject and a predicate but can’t stand alone to render a complete idea; it is incomplete without the help of an independent clause.

NOTE: a dependent clause starts with a subordinating conjunction, but an independent clause does not.


  • We need more money.
  • We will give you this job.
  • I would not speak to you.

Notice that all these sentences make sense alone as they are independent clauses, but dependent clauses don’t do that.


  • Because the project will shut down without it.
  • If you pass the test.
  • Until you apologize to Monica.

Notice these don’t make complete sense as they seem incomplete. In order to make sense of them, we have to merge them with independent clauses.

  • We need more money because the project will shut down without it.
  • We will give you this job if you pass the test.
  • I would not speak to you until you apologize to Monica.

Notice that the independent clauses give complete meanings on their own and the dependent clauses work as an adverb for the independent clauses. They either work as adverbs or adjectives here. When dependent clauses are used in a sentence, they function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.

Independent clause in complex sentences

A complex sentence is a combination of one or more dependent clauses and one independent clause. Let’s study some of them.


  • One should meditate daily if one wants to be mentally healthy.
  • Don’t stop working until you attain your goals.
  • When everyone sleeps, I start working.
  • Before you judge someone, listen to their side properly.

The clause underlined in these examples is the independent clause, and the other part is the dependent clause.

A dependent clause can be a part of an independent clause

When a noun is replaced with a noun clause in a sentence, it makes the sentence complex.

You are who you think you are.

Here, in this example, the sentence has a subject (you), a linking verb (are), and a subject complement (who you think you are). Notice that the subject complement is a noun clause and is used in place of a noun. If we used a simple noun here, the sentence would be simple, and there would be only one clause (independent clause) in it. For example – You are a visionary.

Since the subject complement is a dependent clause (noun clause), it makes the sentence complex where the independent clause has a dependent clause in it.

‘You are’ is not a complete clause/sentence. So, the complement is needed to make it complete. Adding a complement to it makes it a complete sentence (independent clause). But since the complement itself is a dependent clause, and this is already an independent clause, it makes it a complex sentence: a combination of a dependent clause and an independent clause.

More examples:

  • I am not thinking about what she said to me.
  • You can be whatever you want to be.
  • No one truly knows what you are capable of doing.
  • I don’t want to talk about what happened last night. 
  • How you use this opportunity would decide your future in the company.
  • They don’t believe in what you’re selling.

The dependent clauses (bold) are a part of the sentences (independent clauses). Removing them from the sentences would make the sentence incomplete as they are a vital part of them.

For a better understanding, try taking them out of the sentences and see if the sentences still make complete sense.

  • I am not thinking about. (thinking about what?)
  • You can be. (be what?
  • No one truly knows. (no one knows what?)
  • I don’t want to talk about. (talk about what?)
  • would decide your future in the company. (what or who would do that?)
  • They don’t believe in. (you don’t belive in what?

Notice that when we remove the dependent clauses from these independent clauses, the sentences stop giving the same meaning or making sense. It also depends on what a dependent clause does in a sentence. These examples don’t infer that removing a dependent clause from a sentence will result in making the sentence incomplete or ungrammatical.

I went to bed when you were having dinner.

The dependent clause, in this example, is a part of this sentence, working as an adverb. Removing it from the sentence would not make it incomplete or ungrammatical. Here is the result: ‘I went to bed’. Does the sentence not make complete sense after removing the dependent clause from it? It does, right? So, don’t come to the conclusion that removing a dependent clause from an independent clause or sentence will make it incomplete.

Position of an independent clause in a sentence

The position of an independent clause depends on the type of sentence it is. Let’s understand this with the help of a table showing it.

Sentence typeDefinitionPositionExamples
Simple sentenceIt is an independent clause that has only one subject and one predicate.
It has only one independent clause, so the clause is the first and last. So, there is no beginning or end here.

1. I love you.
2. She is a delightful lady.
3. We believe in you.
4. Being a teacher, you have to deal with criticism positively.
Compound sentence
A compound sentence has two or more independent clauses joined together with a coordinating conjunction and a comma/commas.
All the positions as all the clauses in the sentence are independent.
1. I know you very well, and I would support you in this.

2. She wanted to marry me, but her parents wouldn’t agree. 

3. You only have one life, so don’t waste it.
Complex sentence
A complex sentence is a combination of an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.
Either the beginning or the end

1. Jon might help us in this project if you keep your attitude in check. (Beginning)

2. You can’t do big things in life unless you come out of your comfort zone. (Beginning)

3. If you listen to what he says, he can get this role. (End)

4. As soon as the teacher left the room, everyone started making noise. (End)

Compound complex sentence
It is a combination of at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.
beginning, middle, and end (any two positions)

1. We have seen you speak in public many times, and we would like you to work with us as long as you’re willing to move to Bangalore permanently. (Beginning, middle)

2. If you stop listening to every thought that you get, you would be able to control your life, for your thoughts control a big part of your life. (middle, end)

3. No one wants to work with people who are full of themselves, for it does not get the best out of them. (Beginning, end)

Position of an independent clause in different types of sentences

Two independent clauses or sentences can be joined with a semicolon

We sometimes connect two sentences with a semicolon. This is done when the sentences are closely connected and have a certain relation there.

You shouldn’t fight with him; he is a pro fighter.

Notice that we are connecting two sentences (independent clauses) using a semicolon. This is done when both sentences are closely related to each other.

More examples:

  • Don’t talk to him again; you would regret it later.
  • I am going to leave my job and start something on my own; life is too short and unpredictable.
  • He wouldn’t come to the party; he is a little shy and likes being alone.

Now, we know everything about independent clauses. Feel free to share your question, doubt, or feedback in the comment section, and also, share the post with the people that need it.

For one-on-one classes, contact me at [email protected].

Independent clause and comma splices

Two independent clauses can’t be connected or joined together using a semicolon; this is a mistake called ‘Comma Splice‘ in English.

Comma splices:

  1. You should try the salad, it is heavenly.
  2. They are looking for a trainer, I have given them your name.
  3. Please don’t go there alone, it can get you in trouble.

The above sentences are grammatically incorrect as we have added two independent clauses with a comma, which we can’t do in English. Now, let’s study how we can correct a correct splice.

Ways to correct a comma splice:

A) Separate the clauses with a period.
B) Use a coordinating conjunction before the conjunction.
C) Use a semicolon if they are closely connected.
D) Use a colon if the second clause simplifies, summarizes, or justifies the first one.


  • You should try the salad. It is heavenly.
  • You should try the salad, for it is heavenly.
    You should try the salad; it is heavenly.
  • You should try the salad: it is heavenly.
  • They are looking for a trainer. I have given them your name.
  • They are looking for a trainer, and I have given them your name.
  • They are looking for a trainer; I have given them your name.
  • Please don’t go there alone. It can get you in trouble.
  • They are looking for a trainer, and I have suggested them your name.
  • They are looking for a trainer; I have suggested them your name.

NOTE: the FAQs are taken from the internet. They might have grammatical mistakes in them. Please ignore the mistakes you come across in the questions.


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Ashish found his first love—the English language—a few years back. Since then, he has been immersed in the language, breaking down the language and teaching it to passionate English learners. He has a flair for listening to the English language (podcasts, sitcoms, stories), observing the nuances, and making it easy for English learners. He is known for breaking down complex English topics and making them easy to be understood.

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