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Subordinate and Coordinate clauses

Updated on April 11, 2011

Clauses, clauses...CLAUSES

This part of grammar was always my most hated...and for anyone who struggles with them, I hope this helps.

A (very) simple and not quite correct definition of a clause would be: a syntactic object longer than a phrase.

The difficulty with clauses is 1) Identifying a clause 2) Identifying the type of clause.

For this post, I will be focusing on the subordinate and the coordinate clauses.

Subordinate Clause

A clause is subordinate when it is linked by a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun (who, which, etc)

There are two main types of suborinating conjections:

1) Simple (one word subordinators) - although, if, while, since, that...

2) Complex (multi word subordinators) - as long as, such that...

There is also a third, called correlative which are a rarer example of paired subordinators such as 'the less I do, the more I like it'

Subordinate clauses do not form a grammatically correct sentence when isolated from the rest of the sentence.

Subordinate clauses also must contain a subject and a verb.

Some examples...

'I cannot go to college until I am fully awake' - 'until' is the subordinating conjunction. 

'I live by the sea because I like the sand' - 'because' is the subordinating conjunction.

Coordinate Clause

The coordinate clause is linked by a coordinating conjunction, and there are seven: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

Coordinate clauses make grammatical sense alone.

'I like ice cream but I hate chocolate'

A lot more similar to its subordinating sibling!


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      benny 3 years ago

      extreemly helpful

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      Debaditya 4 years ago


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      colman makoi 4 years ago

      its very important to be carefully when annotating punctuation mark in a sentence more especial before or after the clause.

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      Hanady 5 years ago

      thank u . this is what I was looking for

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      Anonymus 5 years ago

      You have to add more info.

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      S m 5 years ago

      Having not studied this area in grammar for a lon time the best I can do is suggest that this forms a pronoun and subject Of the main clause. 'whatever' being the pronoun and 'HE says' being the subject

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      fasasi john 5 years ago

      mine is just a question on how to analyse these statements:

      WHATEVER HE SAYS is the truth

      what kind of clause is the words in capital letters and how can such type be analysed? my email is

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      vivian 5 years ago

      The information was really helpful with my research. Was really confused as to why although and but could not be used together and now I can see why.