Like the phrase, a clause is also a group of words, but it is different from a phrase. In a clause, you must find a subject and a predicate.
For our purpose here, it is enough to remember just this much about the subject and the predicate:
If it is based on a finite verb, it is called a finite clause.
Since the team lost the match, the coach resigned.
"Since the team lost the match" is a finite clause because the verb 'lost' is a finite verb.
If it is based on a non-finite verb, it is called a non-finite clause.
The team having lost the match, the coach resigned.
"The team having lost the match" is a non-finite clause because the verb 'having lost' is a non-finite verb (perfect participle).
What is important for us on this journey to find the answer to the question, 'What is a sentence?', is the route of finite clauses.
So in this article, we shall ignore the non-finite clauses.
A finite clause may be independent or dependent.
These clauses are said to be independent because they are sufficient the way they are. They don't need any other group of words to depend upon. They can stand on their own.
In the last three sentences above, the dependent clauses are highlighted, and we shall now see on what they depend.
The dependent clause...
They are of three types, depending upon the work they do.
See the three numbered sentences above.
(Here they are once again for your convenience.)
In sentence 1—the clause 'that shone in this country' describes the noun light.
Words that describe a noun are called adjectives. Therefore, clauses that describe a noun are called adjective clauses.
They are also known by the name relative clauses, because they always begin with a relative pronoun or relative adverb.
In sentence 2—the clause 'if you read these pages' tells us something more about verb 'can learn'.
Words that tell us something more about verbs are called adverbs. Therefore, clauses which do the same job are called adverb clauses.
In sentence 3—We are declaring to you 'what we have seen'—if we ask the question, "are declaring what?", we get the answer 'what we have seen'.
A word which has this kind of relationship to a verb is called an object. To be an object is the privilege of nouns, pronouns, noun phrases, and noun clauses. So, 'what we have seen' is a noun clause.
We are now ready to move on from the Clause to the Sentence.
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