Understanding the place of the subordinate clause

In our previous lesson, we talked about main clauses, simple sentences, and compound sentences. Just to refresh our mind, the main clauses sends a complete message on its own. An example of the main clause is: He loves playing football. A simple sentence consists of only one main clause hence while a compound sentence consists of two main clauses.

subordinate clause

An example here is: He loves playing football and he loves reading. The second main clause is “he loves reading”. Both main clauses are connected by ‘and’ which plays the role of a connecting conjunction there. Aside from main clauses, we also have subordinate clauses. This teaching series of clauses may not teach you enough we don’t establish the foundation by explaining subordinate clauses.


The subordinate clause is also known as the dependent clause. Why is it called the dependent clause? This is because the subordinate clause doesn’t necessarily send a message on its own. The subordinate actually relies on the main clause and has to be attached to the main clause to really make sense and send a complete message. Just in the same way like the main clause, the subordinate clause is also made up of the subject and the verb.


Look at something like this: I lived when I was a kid.


Does it really make sense? No, it doesn’t.


When the main clause is joined to the subordinate sentence in one sentence, what we have is a complex sentence which is also known as the multi-clause sentence.


Let us add the previous example of the subordinate clause to a main clause and see how it looks.


I met Julie in Mumbai.


This is a main clause (as well as a simple sentence). Let us now add it to our subordinate clause (I lived when a kid) by means of a connecting conjunction.


I met Julie in Mumbai where I lived when I was a kid.


Doesn’t it make sense now? It does now!


The main clause (I met Julie in Mumbai) is joined with the subordinate clause (I lived when I was a kid) by means of a connecting adjective ‘where’. The sentence now has a complete sense and meaning. Thus you see the subordinate clause must be added to the main clause to have a complete meaning. Please note that the subordinate clause doesn’t always have to come after the main clause. It can also come before the main clause. Let us see an example.


After John does his assignment, his mum will take him shopping.


Here the subordinate clause is John does his assignment.

The main clause is his mum will take him shopping.

The connecting adjective is “after”.

Thus so far we have been able to see what subordinate clauses are and how the complete sense comes alive after it is attached to the main clause.

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