A dependent clause:
- Has a subject.
- Has a verb.
- Is not a complete sentence without an accompanying independent clause.
There are three types of dependent clauses (also called subordinate clauses):
The adverb clause
- Takes the place of an adverb by answering:
- Just like an adverb, adverb clauses can be moved around the sentence and still make sense.
- Can be completely removed from the sentence, and the sentence will still make sense.
- Is introduced with a subordinating conjunction.
- Almost always introduces or ends a sentence.
- When appearing at the beginning of a sentence, adverb clauses are separated from the independent clause with a comma.
- Adverb clauses are not separated from the independent clause with a comma when appearing at the end of a sentence ...
- Unless they contradict the independent clause. Then stick the comma in there.
- Contradictory dependent clauses can only be introduced by one of five contradictory subordinate conjunctions:
- Even though.
Before I go to bed, I brush my teeth.
I brush my teeth before I go to bed.
He eats chocolate, even though it gives him a stomach ache.
The dangerous elliptical clause
An elliptical clause is a grammatical error. It is a dependent clause missing either the subject or verb.
While surfing, my surf board was attacked by a shark.
While surfing initially appears to be an adverb clause. However, dependent clauses have a subject and a verb. Participles can have a verb without a subject, but they are strictly adjectives. Infinitives can have just a verb, but they always start with to. Gerunds can only act as nouns. So this clause is actually nothing at all.
This is called an elliptical clause or a dangling verbal.
Simply add a subject to the dependent clause to correct the error. And while we're correcting the clause, let's go ahead and fix the passive voice as well.
While I was surfing, a shark attacked my surf board.
Or my preference ...
A shark attacked my surf board while I was surfing.
44 Subordinating Conjunctions
- as if
- as long as
- as much as
- as soon as
- as though
- but that
- even if
- even though
- ever since
- in case
- in order that
- no matter
- now that
- provided (that)
- so that