Dependent Clauses


Three Components

Grammatical relationships can be classified into three components:

(1) the subject-verb-complement relationship
(2) coordination
(3) subordination

Subject-Verb-Compliment Relationship

The subject-verb-complement (or the actor-action-goal) relationship, is the basic grammatical relationship.

It says that somebody or something is somebody or something, or does something.

We show this relationship mainly by word order.

Subject + verb + (object).

● I am an Egyptologist. I decipher hieroglyphics.
● Bees are insects. They make honey.
● Lew is a comedian. He performs at nightclubs.


Conjunction is a word used to connect words, phrases, clauses, and sentences. The term comes from two Latin words that mean joined with.

There are two kinds of conjunctions, coordinating and subordinating.


Coordination expresses two or more ideas in parallel, or equal, form. In the sentence “She read a book and wrote a letter,” the verbs ‘read’ and ‘wrote’ are parallel.

Function words such as and, but, and or indicate coordination:

● We attended classes in mechanics and did hands-on practice.
● You can order hamburger, or you can order hotdog.
● Victor is going to the car race, but Irene is going shopping.





Subordination connects two “unequal” clauses: a dominant or independent clause (the actor-action-goal part); and a subordinate or dependent clause.

The dominant clause forms the core of a sentence. The subordinate part modifies or changes the meaning of the dominant part.

Function Words

In general, subordinate clauses have conjunctions. These include after, before, when, although, while, because, and if.

In “After Natalie finished university, she joined the Peace Corps,” the clause ‘she joined the Peace Corps’ forms the actor-action-goal core of the sentence.

The phrase ‘after Natalie finished university’ is subordination—it modifies the main action by saying when it happened.

● I worked in a company before I became a freelance accountant.
After Mr. McKenna retired, Ms. Gutierrez took over his position.
● The team will celebrate their victory when they return home.
Although Mojtaba didn’t go to college, he became a wealthy businessman.
● The telephone rang while Homer was taking a shower.
Because of abundant harvests, food prices have fallen.
● If you eat these, you will become smarter.

Answer the following questions or respond to the following statements. Say why and give examples.


1. After we finished the project, we________

2. After________, she moved to a new house.

3. Doug ________ after he bought a new computer.

4. Xueqin had lots of good fortune after________

5. What will happen after the protests?

6. After Mr. McKenna retires, __________


7. I __________ before I started working full-time.

8. Before Gina became prime minister, she________

9. Before________, this place had lots of people.

10. Theo bought lots of gold and silver before________

11. ________before he canceled his credit card.

12. What did Mr. Muskie do before he came to Costa Rica to teach English?


13. When the team returned home, _________.

14. When I retire, I will________

15. When________, my friend feels like dancing.

16. I will________when I save enough money.

17. My neighbor________when he drinks too much.

18. When Bill _________, he became smarter.

19. Where do you go when you finish work or class on Friday?

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