Independent Clause: Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Run On Sentences: Examples & Corrections

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Independent Clause Defined
  • 0:33 Sentence Types
  • 1:13 Run-ons & Fragments
  • 2:39 More About Fragments
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Firestone
In this lesson, you'll learn what an independent clause is and how it's different from a dependent clause. You'll also learn some of the problems that writers encounter with independent clauses and how to correct them.

Independent Clause Defined

An independent clause is a group of words that can stand alone as a sentence. It has both a subject and a verb and forms a complete thought.

Clarity Depends on the Independent Clause

Independent clauses make clear communication possible, whether we're writing or speaking. Think of the independent clause as one of the natural laws of the English language, similar to gravity. Like gravity, we don't think about it, but we wouldn't function very well without it, either. Learning about independent clauses will help you recognize grammatical errors and make your writing more effective.

Sentence Types

Independent clauses are used in all types of complete sentences: simple, compound, complex and compound-complex. All require at least one independent clause. For example:

  • A simple sentence (with one independent clause) would be: 'Dave sleeps.'
  • A compound sentence (with two independent clauses) is: 'Dave sleeps, and Sam reads.'
  • A complex sentence (with one independent clause and at least one dependent clause) would be: 'When Dave sleeps, Sam reads.'
  • A complex-compound sentence (with at least two independent clauses and one dependent clause) is: 'Dave sleeps, and because he has the house quiet at last, Sam reads.'

Run-ons and Fragments

Like anything else, independent clauses have ways of going bad. For example, in compound and complex sentences, the right punctuation and coordinators are required. Without them, independent clauses become run-on sentences, and dependent clauses become sentence fragments.

If you write run-on sentences, readers will most likely end up going over it again and again in order to get a firm understanding of what you're trying to say. This is no fun for the reader, and it risks damaging your credibility as the writer.

Even though run-on sentences and fragments are fairly common, they're considered major English errors. Sometimes, you'll see them in literary works - some writers use artistic license to stray from the conventions of grammar - but they should otherwise be avoided.

Run-ons always involve at least two independent clauses. Here's an example:

'Dave sleeps Sam reads.'

Another type of run-on is the 'comma splice', as shown in this example:

'Dave sleeps, Sam reads.'

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Free 5-day trial

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create an account
Support