Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Rules of Writing-Syntax-The Clause 3
By OFW chief editor:
Carlos J Cortes And Renée Miller
Published: June 11, 2013
Some clauses are groups of words that, although sporting a subject and verb, do not express a complete thought. These are dependent or subordinate clauses. They add information to the sentence by acting as an adjective, adverb, or noun (hence the terms adjective clauses, adverb clauses, and noun clauses). Often, a conjunction introduces a dependent clause.
When Mary shuffled back to the hut…
The burly Cossack was running a bath? The Big Bad Wolf sprang out of the closet?
The conjunction “when,” also called a dependent marker word, has turned our independent clause into a dependent one. Why dependent? Because the idea or thought is not complete; it “depends” on something else. Therefore, a dependent clause cannot be a complete sentence.
A dependent marker word, added to the beginning of an independent clause turns it into a dependent one. Some common dependent markers are: after, although, as, as if, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order to, since, though, unless, until, whatever, when, whenever, whether, and while.
“The boy wolfed down his sandwich,” is a robust independent clause; it doesn’t need anything else to convey the image of a ravenous boy doing what boys do best with sandwiches. But add a dependent marker, any of them, and the clause’s independence vanishes:
As the boy wolfed down his sandwich,
Even though the boy wolfed down his sandwich,
When the boy wolfed down his sandwich,
These dependent clauses now beg for more, else their meaning is missing. The boy is still attacking the sandwich, but something else happened, is happening, or is about to happen.
As the boy wolfed down his sandwich, Fido wagged his tail.
Even though the boy wolfed down his sandwich, he missed his favorite cartoon.
When the boy wolfed down his sandwich, Grandma brought another one.
Now the sentences are complete and their meaning clear. Are they stronger? Weaker? These are questions a good editor asks him/herself.
Knowing the difference between independent and dependent clause can help avoid common errors, rife in early drafts, like comma splices, fused sentences and fragments.
Renee Miller & Carlos Cortes
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