Dependent and Independent Clauses

Kristin Fracchia
Lesson by Kristin Fracchia
Magoosh Expert
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This video is about dependent and independent clauses, which is really one of the most important things you need to know for the English test. Because you are going to be tested over and over again about combining sentences or determining if something is a sentence fragment or a run-on. And so it's really important that you know the difference. So let's just take a look at some introductory examples.

So let's say we have the man who knocked on the door. Is this a complete sentence? Well, we have a subject, we have a verb, but we have this pesky who here, and what that does is it makes it not a sentence. It makes it a dependent clause, so I'm gonna call that D.C. right here. So, this is describing the man who knocked on the door, or the, describing the man knocked on the door.

It's the man who knocked on the door. So it's not just the man went to the store, it's the man who knocked on the door went to the store. That would be kinda a weird thing to say, but you get the point. So this is defining, it's a definite article defining the man who knocked on the door.

And because that who is there, it makes it a dependent clause. Now, if that who wasn't there, it would be an independent clause. It could stand alone as a sentence. The man who knocked on the door almost splintered it. So now we have a subject, the man who knocked on the door. And we have a verb, he almost splintered it.

So we have an independent clause here, because it can stand alone as a sentence. When the man knocked on the door. Now if it just said the man knocked on the door, that would be a sentence. But we have a pesky, we have one of those other words here like who or when, and that is making it a dependent clause. It depends on the other part of the sentence that needs to go with it.

So for example, when the man knocked on the door, he almost splintered it. Here is our independent clause, he almost splintered it. We have a subject, he. We have a verb, splintered. And then we have this first part here is our dependent clause. It depends on the rest of that sentence.

When the man knocked on the door, that establishes the time or frame here, or the circumstances surrounding it, and he almost splintered it. All right, let's go ahead and look a little bit more specifically about what the difference is here. Let's go through some definitions. So an independent clause had a subject and a verb.

It expresses a complete thought. This is a key way that a lot of students are taught to think about it. It helps to think about whether you're expressing a complete thought. So for example, when the man knocked on the door. You're like, what happened, what happened when the man knocked on the door? It's not a complete thought.

But when the man knocked on the door, he almost splintered it, or just he almost splintered it, is a complete thought. And an independent clause can stand alone as a sentence. So in other videos on run-ons and comma splices and things like that you'll often hear me refer to independent clauses being able to stand alone as sentences. A dependent clause, here's a trick, it also has a subject and a verb.

When the man knocked on the door. The man knocked on the door. You think, well that's a sentence. But it's not, because of that when. It doesn't express a complete thought. When the man knocked on the door, dot, dot, dot.

Not a complete thought. And it cannot stand alone as a sentence. So one way that you can be looking out for dependent clauses is to be looking out for these dependent marker words, okay? So I'm gonna give you some examples of those in just a moment. When a dependent marker word is added to the beginning of an independent clause, it turns it into a dependent clause.

So for example, if we had Joey studied for his Physics final, that is an independent clause. But we throw in one of those dependent marker words like this, when Joey studied for his Physics final. All of a sudden it's not a complete sentence, it's not a complete thought. It has that dependent marker word.

So there's many of these, but some common ones are as, because, before, after, even though, if, since, though, when, while. So we just saw an example of that. When the man knocked on the door, he almost splintered it. So be watching out for these extra little words that might be turning an independent clause into a dependent clause that cannot stand alone as a sentence.

Let's go ahead and take a look at a test example. Rosie the Riveter eventually found her place as a cultural icon in the United States. Because she was able to embody principles of feminism and women's economic power. Now, this is a very, very common question type on the test. And so we have an independent clause in our first sentence here.

Rosie the Riveter eventually found her place as a cultural icon in the United States. That can stand alone as a sentence, so that is fine. But we have this dependent marker word right here. Because she was able to employ principles of feminism and women's economic power. And that dependent marker word, even though if we didn't have it this would be a complete sentence.

She was able to embody principles of feminism and women's economic power. But because we have that because there, it's a dependent clause and it cannot stand alone as a sentence. So we need to fix that here. Now, so we know its not NO CHANGE. And we have a whole other video on punctuation so you can learn about semi colons there.

But really quickly here, it's not going to be D because a semicolon needs to link two independent clauses and we just determined that second one is dependent. Now, should there be a comma there or not? Well, there shouldn't be a comma, these ideas are connected. Rosie the Riveter eventually found her place as a cultural icon in the United States because she was able to embody principles of feminism.

The ideas are connected. We don't wanna take a break there and also because, because is not one of our fanboys conjunctions, so it doesn't work. If it said, and she was able to embody principles of feminism, or, or she was able to embody principles of feminism, then we would have a compound sentence here, and we would need a conjunction there.

But because is not a conjunction, so we don't want to have that comma there. Eliminate that one, and the answer is going to be C.

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