Sibia Proofreading Blog

Subordinate Clauses

Dona Le - Friday, January 22, 2010
Subordinate (or dependant) clauses are extremely useful because they add texture and depth to your writing. A subordinate clause includes a subject and a verb, but it cannot stand alone as a sentence. Instead, it simply enhances the meaning of an independent clause, which is a complete sentence by itself.

In order to introduce a subordinate clause, you must use a subordinating conjunction, also known as a subordinator. Some subordinators include when, whenever, if, because, while, and unless.

Below are three examples of subordinate clauses, which are italicized for emphasis.

1)     You should proofread your essays because demonstrating that you have strong writing skills is essential to a high grade.

2)     Whenever my English teacher grades our papers, she checks for correct subject-verb agreement.

3)     I submitted my final essay several hours before the deadline, although I was tempted to procrastinate and finish it later.

However, subordinate clauses can obscure sentence meanings when they are placed inappropriately. Be sure that your subordinate clause does not disrupt the logic and flow of your independent clause.

Clear sentences

The flight may be delayed for a few hours, if the snow continues to fall at this rate.

If the snow continues to fall at this rate, the flight may be delayed for a few hours.

Unclear sentences

The flight, if the snow continues to fall at this rate, may be delayed for a few hours.

The flight may be delayed, if the snow continues to fall at this rate, for a few hours.

For a few hours, if the snow continues to fall at this rate, the flight may be delayed.

Again, the appropriate use of subordinate clauses can enrich your text greatly. If you remain unclear about how to construct subordinate clauses, you can obtain first-class editing and proofreading assistance from Sibia Proofreading editors!

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