In the most basic terms, a clause is a collection of words that has a subject and a verb. In order to be considered a clause, it must have a noun and a verb. A noun is a word that refers to a person, place or object. A verb, on the other hand, is a word that refers to action.
A clause can be a whole sentence or part of a sentence. There are in fact four types of clauses: main clause or independent clause; subordinate clause or dependent clause; adjective clause or relative clause; and noun clause.
While each clause must have a noun and a verb, an independent clause is the one that can stand by itself. It can form a complete sentence with punctuation. For example: ‘John got hurt.’ Here, ‘John’ is the subject and noun, while ‘got’ is the verb. The clause is ‘John got hurt,’ which is a proper sentence; hence it is an independent clause.
However, if a clause cannot form a whole sentence, and is in fact a part of another sentence, then it is considered to be a dependent clause. A dependent clause has a subject and a verb, but it cannot stand as a complete sentence. For example, ‘because Maria kicked the ball’ is a clause as it has a subject, Maria and a verb, kicked; but it is not a proper sentence. It is incomplete. A proper sentence would be ‘John got hurt, because Maria kicked the ball.’ Here ‘John got hurt’ is an independent clause, which has a dependent clause with it, ‘because Maria kicked the ball.’
Similarly, an adjective is a word that provides a description. Hence, an adjective clause is a clause that provides a description. Like all clauses it must have a subject and a verb, but it must also provide information about something. For example, Ice-cream, which most people love, is very fattening. Here, ‘Ice-cream is very fattening’, in an independent clause, whereas ‘which most people love’ is an adjective clause because it is providing additional information about the ice-cream.
Noun clauses are a bit trickier than other clauses. Firstly, noun clauses are dependent clauses, as they cannot stand by themselves as a sentence, but since they are so prominent they are considered as another category. Noun clauses are clauses that act as the subject of another clause. It can also be said that they are the subject on a sentence, the ones doing the action. For example: ‘What Tom said was not very polite.’ Here, ‘What Tom said’ is the subject of the sentence; it is the one that was not very polite. Hence, the clause ‘What Tom said’ is a noun clauses.
Some examples of Clauses:
Tara ate pizza after going home.
I cannot remember what I said yesterday.
She has already read the newspaper.
I let the door slip from my fingers
…and it closed behind me.
The old mango tree was still producing sweet mangoes.