Independent vs Dependent Clause: Difference and Comparison

A language can only be studied in its best form if one understands the grammar and rules of that language more effectively.

Clauses are one of this language’s most integral components. However, its provisions are not just in English but also in other languages.

Key Takeaways

  1. Independent clauses can stand alone as a sentence.
  2. Dependent clauses cannot stand alone as a sentence.
  3. Independent clauses express a complete thought.

Independent Clause vs Dependent Clause 

An Independent clause is a complete sentence that can stand alone. It contains a subject, a predicate, and a complete thought. A dependent clause cannot stand alone as a sentence and relies on an independent clause for context and meaning. They start with subordinate conjunctions.

Independent Clause vs Dependent Clause

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Independent Clauses, on one side, are complete in themselves and require no other clause to accompany them. They convey complete meaning and do not lack anything when it comes to meaning and information.

While on the other hand, Dependent Clauses cannot be used without any other clause attached to them. They can only convey half the idea, and a different clause is required with them.

Comparison Table 

Parameters of ComparisonIndependent Clause Dependent Clause 
Definition  A clause that can be used in a sentence without any clause having to accompany it.   A clause that can only be used with another clause and is not independent in itself. 
Also called Main Clause Subordinate clause 
States  The complete meaning or idea behind something. It states only a part of an idea and not the whole idea. 
Found in  Almost all the sentences, whether they are simple, complex, or a mixture of both. This clause is not noticed in most of the sentences. 
Used conjunctions  Certain specific conjunctions are used to join one independent clause with another independent or dependent clause, and those are- And, but, neither, nor, or, etc. The conjunctions which are used to join this clause with other independent or dependent clauses are- If, because, then, etc. 
Nature  This clause is strong in nature as it is complete in itself.  This clause is relatively weak in its nature as it needs another phrase to convey the complete idea.  

What is Independent Clause? 

By definition, an Independent Clause is one that comprises a few words and conveys the complete and whole meaning of the idea behind it.  

For example- 

  • I like to enjoy a latte when it rains. (Independent clause) 
  • It is raining outside. (Independent clause) 

These two sentences given here are independent clauses in literal meaning. These both can convey the complete meaning that they intend to state and require no support.

For example- “It is raining outside, and I like to enjoy a latte when it rains.” Not only this but an independent clause is also joined with certain dependent clauses, such as- 

  • He said (Dependent clause) 
  • She claimed (Dependent clause) 

Now, these dependent clauses cannot be used independently as they raise questions like- what did he say or What did she claim? An Independent clause is one that answers such questions. For example-  

He said (Dependent clause) + It is raining outside (Independent clause) = He said that it is raining outside.  

What is Dependent Clause? 

A Dependent Clause demonstrates a specific group of words that happens to be unable to convey its complete sense and requires the assistance of another independent clause. This can better be understood by the following examples- 

  • When she completed her studies (Dependent clause) 
  • Because it was so dark (Dependent clause) 

These clauses constitute a group of words, but a complete meaning cannot be derived from them. Therefore, they require the assistance of an independent clause. For example-  

  • She left for London (Independent clause) + When she completed her studies (Dependent clause) = She left for London when she completed her studies. 
  • She could not see properly (Independent clause) + Because it was so dark (Dependent clause) = She couldn’t see properly because it was so dark.  

Main Differences Between Independent and Dependent Clause 

  1. Certain specific conjunctions are used to join an Independent Clause with another independent or dependent clause, and those are- And, but, neither, nor, or, etc.
  2. The Independent Clause happens to be strong in nature, while the Dependent Clause happens to be comparatively weak in nature.  

Last Updated : 20 July, 2023

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