An Independent or Main Clause is the one which makes complete sense on its own and can stand alone i.e. it is a complete sentence. It does not need to be combined with any other clause or phrase. It consists of a subject and a verb to make complete meaning. An Independent Clause can be:
a) A Simple Sentence: A sentence formed by a single clause with a subject and a verb.
- Bella sings.
- Melanie plays badminton every day.
In the first sentence “Bella” being the subject and “sings” being the verb expresses a complete thought in itself. Similarly in the second sentence, “Melanie” is the subject and “plays” is the verb.
b) Joined to another Independent Clause with the help of a Conjunction: A sentence formed by two Independent Clauses which are joined with the help of a suitable conjunction is known as a Compound Sentence. In other words two simple sentences are joined with the help of a conjunction, each of which makes complete sense and can stand on its own. Here the first Independent Clause is followed by a comma before the conjunction.
- I tried to learn French, and my brother tried to learn Spanish.
- Alex was watching TV, so I went to play.
In the above sentences two Independent Clauses are joined with the help of the conjunction “and”. In the first sentence “I tried to learn French” is the first Independent Clause and “My brother tried to learn Spanish” is the other one. Both of them have their own subjects and verbs. “I” being the subject and “tried” being the verb in the first one; “brother” being the subject and “tried” being the verb in the second one. Similarly, the second sentence also consists of two Independent Clauses which have their respective subjects and verbs (have been underlined and italicized in the sentence) joined with the help of the conjunction “so”.
c) Joined to another Independent Clause with the help of a semicolon: Two simple sentences or two Independent Clauses can be joined together with the help of a semicolon in a way that both the clauses make complete sense when stand alone.
- Julia cooked; Walt watched TV.
- Lauren left; Skyler washed her car.
In both the above examples, two Independent Clauses are joined with the help of a semicolon. In the first sentence the first Independent Clause “Julia cooked” is joined with the help of a semicolon to another Independent Clause “Walt watched TV”. In the same way, in the second one “Lauren left” is joined to “Skyler brushed her hair” with the help of a semicolon.
d) Joined to another Independent Clause with the help of an Independent Marker Word: An Independent Marker Word is used as a connecting word at the beginning of an Independent Clause. The sentences which begin with an Independent Marker word can express complete meaning. If the second Independent Clause has an Independent marker word, a semicolon is added before it. Some of the common Independent Marker Words are consequently, however, also, moreover, nevertheless, furthermore and therefore.
- Evelyn went to the market for shopping; however, she had to come back as it was raining.
- It was raining cats and dogs yesterday; therefore, she could not go to play.
e) A Complex Sentence: A sentence formed by joining an Independent Clause with one or more Dependent clauses (one which cannot make a complete meaning on its own and cannot stand alone and need the help of an Independent Clause to form a sentence) with the help of Dependent Marker word is called a Complex Sentence. A Dependent Marker word is a word which is added before the Independent Clause to turn it into a Dependent Clause. It is always placed at the beginning. Some of the common Dependent Marker Words are after, although, because, while, in order to, if, since, unless, until, when, as if, before, as, even if, though, even though, whatever, whether and whenever. In this case, if the dependent marker word is added to the first clause, then it is always followed by a comma but if the dependent marker word is added in between both the clauses then no comma is required.
- When Samantha went to the market, it was raining.
- After Harper told Emily to leave, she washed her car.
- Allison and Claire are playing because they have a match tomorrow.
- They went to play after they finished their homework.