A subordinate, or dependent, clause is similar to a main clause, but it is not a complete thought.
How to Spot a Subordinate Clause
Subordinate clauses typically begin with subordinating conjunctions, relative pronouns, or relative adverbs.
Subordinating Conjunction Examples
|before||even though||if||provided that|
The seals sing mournful songs at sunset = main clause
The seals is the subject, and sing is the verb.
because they fear the night = subordinate clause
They is the subject, and fear is the verb. It is subordinate because it begins with the subordinating conjunction because.
Relative Pronoun Examples
The cow. . . is a master hypnotist = main clause
The cow is the subject, and is is the verb.
who let me win the staring contest = subordinate clause
Who is the relative pronoun and subject, and let is the verb.
Aliens prefer dabbing = main clause
Aliens is the subject, and prefer is the verb.
when there is a full moon = subordinate clause
There is the subject, and is is the verb. This clause starts with the relative adverb when, so it is subordinate.
Need more help identifying subordinate clauses? Complete the practice exercises in this video!
Main and Subordinate Clauses Quiz
Ready to test your knowledge of subordinate clauses? Try the main and subordinate clauses quiz!