What is a Subordinating Clause? Check Definition, Types, & Examples

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Did you know, that every second sentence in English grammar is a clause in one way or another? Sometimes, the occurrence rises to more than once, depending on the type of sentence.  After all, both main and subordinate, two main types of clauses give a meaningful formation to any sentence. However, a subordinating clause may fail to act alone as a complete sentence and is referred to as a dependent clause to its main counterpart. In this blog, you will learn in-depth about what a subordinate clause is, through the lens of meaning, usage, examples, and more to be as proficient as a native English speaker. 

Must Read: What are Clauses: Definition, Types, Examples

What is a Subordinating Clause? – Definition

If you go by the grammar books, a dependent or subordinating clause is a group of words that completes or complements the main clause of a sentence. Its combination usually comprises a noun, verb, relative pronoun, subordinating conjunction, or any other part of speech

Subordinating Clause

Types of Subordinating Clause

The subordinating clauses are further divided into five different types according to their functionality within a sentence. Check their definition and examples hereon:

Types of Subordinating Clause

Adverbial Clause and Examples 

These clauses function like adverbs to modify the verb, adjective, or entire sentence they are attached to. They answer questions like when, where, why, how, and to what extent.

For Example:

  • She arrived when the clock struck noon.
  • He ran as fast as he could.
  • I finished my work because I was tired.

Adjectival Clause and Examples

Just like adjectives, these clauses modify a noun or pronoun and are often introduced by relative pronouns like who, whom, which, and that, describing the noun or pronoun they come after.

For Example:

  • The book that I borrowed is a classic.
  • The students who studied hard passed the exam.
  • The house which has a red door is mine.

Nominal Clause and Examples

Unlike the above two subordinate clauses, nominals itself act as a noun within the sentence. In other words, it can easily function as a subject, object, or complement. Moreover, it uses words like that, whether, and who for introduction. 

For Example:-

  • That you arrived safely is a relief.
  • I asked whether she would be attending the meeting.
  • My dream is to become a writer.

Conditional Clause with Examples

It expresses a condition or hypothetical scenario with the help of conjunctions like if, unless, as long as, and on condition that

For Example:-

  • If you study hard, you will succeed.
  • I won’t go unless it rains. 

Comparative Clause with Examples

Similar to conditionals, comparative clauses also use conjunctions like than, as, and as…as to compare two things or ideas. 

For Example:-

  • She’s taller than her brother.
  • This cake is as delicious as the one you made last year. 

Find more related reads below!

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Adverbial ClauseWhat are Adverbial Phrases (& Clauses)

15 Subordinating Clause Examples for Easy Learning

Here are some more examples of dependent clauses you can refer to improve your knowledge of grammar rules related to clauses: 

  1. I’ll call you when I get home.
  2. “The child who lost their toy cried loudly.
  3. Whether you win or lose, always give your best effort.
  4. She enjoys reading books that are full of adventure.
  5. If you practice regularly, you’ll improve your skills.
  6. He ran faster than I could imagine.
  7. I was surprised that nobody answered the door.
  8. The movie which won the award is a heartwarming story.
  9. My goal is to graduate with honours.
  10. We went outside as soon as the rain stopped.
  11. He wouldn’t leave unless he had his phone.
  12. The teacher explained how to solve the problem.
  13. They built a house where they could enjoy the view.
  14. I wonder what they are talking about.
  15. She prefers coffee rather than tea.

Read More: Subordinating Clause Example with Meaning

Subordinating Clause Exercise for Practice

Now that everything is said and done, make sure to test your knowledge of subordinate clauses through the following exercises. You can also check the answers later within the same section to judge your accuracy rate. 

Exercise 1 – Fill in the Blanks with Subordinating Clauses

Instructions: Fill in the blanks with the appropriate subordinating clauses to complete the following sentence with the help of options provided in brackets.

  1. The movie was so scary ___________ I couldn’t sleep all night. (because/even though / when)
  2. We won’t go to the beach ___________ it stops raining. (until/if/as soon as)
  3. The musician who plays the violin is my favourite. (which / since / whose)
  4. She studied hard ___________ she could get a good grade on the test. (so/that/ although)
  5. ___________ you finish your homework, you can play outside. (Once/While/Unless)
  6. My dream is ___________ travel the world. (t /how/what)
  7. He arrived at the party ___________ everyone else had already left. (after/ before/while)
  8. I bought a new book ___________ the genre I enjoy most. (that/in/because)
  9. The children were excited ___________ they saw the presents under the tree. (when/because/as soon as)
  10. ___________ you tell me the truth, I won’t be angry. (If/As long as/Since)

Answer Key

  1. because
  2. until
  3. which
  4. so
  5. Once
  6. to
  7. after
  8. that
  9. when
  10. If

Exercise 2 – Identify the Clauses

Instructions: Read each sentence and identify the independent clause (main clause) and the dependent clause (subordinating clause), if any. Write “IC” for the independent clause and “DC” for the dependent clause next to each sentence.

  1. When the sun rises, the birds start singing.
  2. Although it rained all day, we still went to the park.
  3. The movie was so good that everyone stayed until the very end.
  4. They went hiking in the mountains, which was their favourite activity.
  5. We can go for a swim after you finish your chores.
  6. As long as you try your best, you’ll succeed.
  7. He bought the book because he wanted to learn more about the topic.
  8. The house with the blue door is where my grandparents live.
  9. I went to the library to find a good book to read.
  10. If you see a lost dog, please bring it to the shelter.

Answer Key

  1. DC, IC
  2. DC, IC
  3. IC, DC
  4. IC, DC
  5. IC, DC
  6. IC, DC
  7. DC, IC
  8. IC, DC
  9. IC, DC
  10. DC, IC

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What are the 7 subordinating clauses in English?

Subordinating clauses, also known as dependent clauses, are groups of words that contain both a subject and a verb but cannot stand alone as complete sentences. Here are seven common types of subordinating clauses in English:

  1. Time clause
  2. Place clause
  3. Reason clause
  4. Condition clause
  5. Purpose Clause
  6. Result Clause
  7. Comparison Clause

How to identify a subordinate clause? 

For identifying a subordinate clause, you should look out for the following features:-

  1. Subordinating conjunctions or relative pronouns often introduce subordinate clauses.
  2. They cannot stand alone as complete sentences.
  3. They usually provide additional information about the main clause, such as time, reason, condition, etc.
  4. They depend on a main clause to make complete sense.

Find more grammatical reads below!

Learn English Grammar from Scratch501+ Best Idioms with Examples
Active and Passive Voice Rules for all TensesTenses Rules
Adverb Pictures of Each TypPictures for Preposition
Masculine and Feminine Nouns of GenderTypes of Conjunction

This was all about the subordinating clauses and the related information. Hope you understand the concept and know how to proceed. You can also follow Leverage Edu for more exciting and informative blogs.

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