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subordinate clause

noun, Grammar.
a clause that modifies the principal clause or some part of it or that serves a noun function in the principal clause, as when she arrived in the sentence I was there when she arrived or that she has arrived in the sentence I doubt that she has arrived.
Also called dependent clause.
Compare main clause. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dependent clause
Historical Examples
  • A dependent clause in a complex sentence may also be an adjective clause.

    Plain English

    Marian Wharton
  • When you add a dependent clause you have a complex sentence.

    Plain English

    Marian Wharton
  • But even this fatal conclusion is diluted by a dependent clause.

    The Hoosier Schoolmaster Edward Eggleston
  • If the sentence last quoted were inverted, a comma would be placed after the dependent clause.


    Paul Allardyce
  • In a complex sentence, the dependent clause is generally separated from the main clause by a comma.

  • But when the dependent clause is short and the connection close, the comma may be omitted.

  • May be used with a dependent clause if this sense is clearly involved: “He claimed that he was the sole surviving heir.”

    The Elements of Style William Strunk
  • When a sentence is introduced by a participial phrase or a dependent clause it is in part or wholly periodic.

    English: Composition and Literature

    W. F. (William Franklin) Webster
  • A subordinate conjunction is one that connects a dependent clause to the principal clause.

    Plain English

    Marian Wharton
  • After a verb of wishing, the subjunctive is regularly used in the dependent clause.

    An English Grammar W. M. Baskervill and J. W. Sewell
British Dictionary definitions for dependent clause

dependent clause

(grammar) another term for subordinate clause

subordinate clause

(grammar) a clause with an adjectival, adverbial, or nominal function, rather than one that functions as a separate sentence in its own right Compare coordinate clause, main clause
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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dependent clause in Culture

dependent clause definition

A clause that does not stand alone as a sentence but depends on another clause to complete its meaning: “When I get my braces off, I will be very happy.” Dependent clauses are also known as subordinate clauses. (Compare independent clause.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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