Independent clause

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Independent clauses are an important concept to understand as they are a building block of sentence structure. In this reference, we will explore what an independent clause is, its examples, how to identify it in sentences, and look at different types of independent clauses.

What is an independent clause?

An independent clause is a collection of words which includes a subject and a predicate and expresses a complete thought. It can stand alone as a sentence and does not rely on any other clause or phrase to express its meaning. An independent clause is often mentioned as a 'main clause' as it is the primary clause in a sentence.

For example, "She went to the store." is an independent clause. It contains a subject 'She' and a predicate 'went to the store' and conveys a complete thought, making it a sentence on its own.

Independent clause examples

Here are a few handy sentences for reference:

  • "The cat sat on the mat."
  • "He likes to play football on weekends."
  • "I am studying for my exams."
  • "The sun sets in the west."

All the above sentences express a complete thought and can stand alone as individual sentences.

Identifying independent clauses in a sentence

To identify an independent clause in a sentence, you can look for a group of words that contain a subject and a predicate and can stand alone as a sentence. For example, in the sentence "I love to read books, and I enjoy watching movies," there are two independent clauses: "I love to read books" and "I enjoy watching movies." Both clauses can be independent sentences on their own.

Another way to identify an independent clause is by checking if it can be joined by a coordinating conjunction to another clause. A coordinating conjunction connects two independent clauses and creates a compound sentence. For example, in the sentence "I ate dinner, and I watched a movie," there are two independent clauses that are joined together by the coordinating conjunction 'and'.


Types of independent clauses

There are three types of independent clauses - simple, compound, and complex.

  1. Simple independent clause - It is a single independent clause that expresses a complete thought. For example, "She sings well."
  2. Compound independent clause - It is made up of two or more independent clauses along with a coordinating conjunction. For example, "He likes to play football, but he hates to watch it on TV."
  3. Complex independent clause - It is made up of a single independent clause and one or more dependent clauses joined together. For example, "The movie was great, although it was quite long."

Common independent clause words

There are certain words that commonly introduce an independent clause. These words are also called 'coordinating conjunctions'. 

List of some of the most common coordinating conjunctions:

  • And
  • Or
  • But
  • So
  • Yet
  • For
  • Nor

These words can join two independent clauses to form a compound sentence.

Common mistakes

  1. Avoid the comma splice. A comma splice happens when two clauses are joined together with a comma instead of a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon. For example, "The sun is shining, it's a beautiful day." is a comma splice as it joins two independent clauses with a comma.
  2. Avoid sentence fragments. Sentences require an independent clause to make sense. If your sentence doesn't, you're probably using a dependent clause and creating an incomplete sentence. For example, "Before the exam, studying hard." is not an independent clause as it does not express a complete thought.
Types of independent clauses


Independent clauses include a subject and a predicate and express a complete thought. They can stand alone as a sentence and do not rely on any other clause or phrase to express its meaning. Now that you know how independent clauses work, use them to improve your sentence structure and writing skills!

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Nylah ANGMar 12th, 2024
I highly recommend this grammar article to anyone who wants to brush up on their language skills. It's an invaluable resource that makes learning grammar enjoyable.