Complex Sentences Part 2

Subordinating Conjunctions

There are many different names that we use to describe grammar. In previous ELC writing textbooks, we used the term time clause to talk about dependent clauses that show the sequence relationship between two actions. Those time clauses started with words like after, before, when, while, whenever, since, and until.

The general name for words that connect two clauses is conjunction.

As explained in the other section of this chapter, a coordinating conjunction connects two independent clauses. Both of those ideas are complete on their own, but the writer chooses to emphasize how they are connected using a coordinating conjunction.

A subordinating conjunction is a word that makes an idea incomplete as soon as it is added to the beginning of a clause. Time clauses are a specific type of subordinating conjunction. Subordinating conjunctions make an idea dependent, meaning it requires another clause. When you have both a dependent and independent clause, the sentence is called a complex sentence.

Additional common subordinating conjunctions are: although, even if, even though, if, though, and whether.

The order of the clauses can change. If the independent clause is first, the comma is not necessary.

Relative Clauses

Sometimes a dependent clause is used within a sentence to add more information about a noun or noun phrase. This is called a relative clause. Instead of using a subordinating conjunction, the relative clause uses a relative pronoun to introduce the dependent clause. Relative pronouns include which, that, who, whom, and whose.

Sometimes we do not write the relative pronoun, and this is called a reduced clause. A relative clause can only be reduced if the information is not required.

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