- Clause: a group of words containing a subject and a predicate
- Independent (Main) Clause: a clause that can stand alone as a sentence
- Coordinating Conjunction: a word that joins two independent clauses
- and, as, but, for, nor, or, so, yet
- Dependent (Subordinate) Clause: a clause that cannot stand alone as a sentence because it contains a subordinating conjunction
- before I put my keys away
- Subordinating Conjunction: a word that appears at the beginning of a dependent clause and makes the clause unable to stand alone as a sentence
- although, because, since, if, whenever
Three Basic Sentence Structures and Their Punctuation
- Simple Sentence
- The umbrella is in the car.
Independent clause, coordinating conjunction independent clause.
- It has begun raining since we arrived, and the umbrella is in the car.
Note that the coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence is preceded by a comma.
Independent clause dependent clause.
- It wouldn’t have started raining if I hadn’t left the umbrella in the car.
Dependent clause, independent clause.
- If I hadn’t left the umbrella in the car, it wouldn’t have started raining.
Note that in a complex sentence, if the dependent clause precedes the independent clause, the two clauses are separated by a comma. However, if the independent clause comes first, no comma is necessary.
Note: Sentences that combine compound and complex structures (compound-complex sentences) incorporate the punctuation appropriate to the type of conjunction.
Click on the links below for more writing tips:
Punctuation Pointers: Colons & Semicolons
Punctuation Pointers: Apostrophes & Quotation Marks