Dependent Phrases and Independent Clauses

Welcome to my blog. My intent is to use this to address topics that I see come up throughout the course of working with each of you.

It wasn’t until I began my journey into copyediting that I realized just how many rules there were to writing. After researching various topics related to editing, writing, and all the rules surrounding each, I’ve come to the realization that confusion often occurs because of the number of different writing styles. Be it APA, Chicago, IEEE, MLA, etc., there are few rules which translate across each writing style. A lot of the rules are more intended to be recommendations or suggestions but can be overlooked in the guise of an author’s individual style.

With this in mind, I hope to publish articles that span across writing styles and address some of the more common concepts that I run across. It is my hope that these articles aide you, if even in a small way. Now, join me as we look at one of many things I examine on my journey to help you bring your words to the world.

For my first blog entry, I am going to address dependent phrases and independent clauses. Let me start out with a breakdown of two basic sentence components: the phrase and the clause.

A clause is a word or group of words that include both a noun, a verb, and a predicate. Basically, it’s a complete thought.

For example: “I jumped into the air.”

A phrase is a part of a sentence that consists of two or more words and is missing either the verb, the noun, or both. It is be missing a subject-verb agreement.

For example: “After the meal”

The above isn’t a complete thought because the reader has no clue what happened “After the meal.”

Now, let’s move on to independent clauses and dependent phrases.

An independent clause is a sentence that can stand alone. It’s a complete sentence with a noun and a verb.

For example: “I like going out to eat.”

A dependent phrase is a part of a sentence or group of words and can’t stand on its own. It is not a complete sentence because it is lacking a noun and/or verb.

For example: “at restaurants”

When combining the two parts from both examples, it will create an independent/dependent sentence.

“I like going out to eat at restaurants.”

***On a side note, there are also dependent clauses. What are these, you ask? It is basically a group of words that contain a noun and verb, BUT it doesn’t state a complete thought.

For example: “If I had to go to school every day”

The reader will be left asking what would happen? As such, this is an incomplete thought.

When using independent phrases and dependent clauses in the same sentence, the use of a comma is determined based on which component comes first.

Independent clause + dependent phrase = no comma needed

For example: “I love going to the beach and collecting shells.”

Dependent phrase + independent clause = comma is required

For example: “When I go to the beach, I love collecting shells.”

When it comes to sentences made up of a dependent phrase and an independent clause, you can swap the order of the independent clause and dependent phrase.

“I love collecting shells when I go to the beach.”

Independent clause + independent clause = comma is required

For example: “I love going to the beach, and I love collecting shells.”

Both “I love going to the beach” and “I love collecting shells” are independent clauses because they can stay alone as single sentences.

“I love going to the beach. I love collecting shells.”

Instead of a comma, a semicolon can also be used also.

“I love going to the beach; I love collecting shells.”

Of course, a sentence can have more than one independent clause and/or dependent phrase. These sentences are referred to as complex sentences. Here’s an example of one:

I love going to the beach and collecting shells, but I’m not a fan of getting sunburned.

This sentence is made up of an independent clause, dependent phrase, and an independent clause.

This concludes my first blog entry and I will have more coming in the near future. If anyone has any questions, comments, concerns, jokes, funnies, just send me a message. Thanks for reading!

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