Understanding clauses



In the lesson about Simple Sentences, we saw how you can combine real world entities—people, things, actions, qualities, places and times—to express basic meaning.

We also saw that at the heart of every simple sentence is a single action:

Griphook jumped down from his shoulders.

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsJ.K. RowlingSource

In cold winters the Queen does revert to knitted woollen hose for warmth.

Shakespeare's London on 5 Groats a DayRichard TamesSource

In Connectors and an Introduction to Complex Meaning, we saw that you can combine strings of simple sentences together to show relationships between events.

For example, this simple sentence:

He tapped his own life force.

Can be joined with this simple sentence:

He wanted me dead.

To get this compound sentence:

He tapped his own life force because he wanted me dead.

The Woman Who Rides Like a ManTamora PierceSource

Different connectors create different relationships. 'Because' creates a cause and effect relationship:

He tapped his own life force because he wanted me dead.

The Woman Who Rides Like a ManTamora PierceSource

While 'but' creates a concession relationship:

There was a museum in town, but it wasn't very exciting.

Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of DelawareM.T. AndersonSource

Connectors are great and there is a lot we can do with them, but they can get a little unwieldy:

He tapped his own life force because he wanted me dead, but he did not want to suffer, so he tried to speed up the magic, and that should have made it easier, but it did not work as intended.

This sentence sounds 'clunky'.

There's a lot of repetition (he did this, he did that, he did this other thing...), and the rhythm is monotonous—if people actually talked like this, everyone might end up falling asleep!

We need some additional tools for creating complex meaning, to cut out some of the repetition and make our writing more readable.

But before we can introduce these new tools we need to explain an important stepping-stone concept, and that's 'clauses'.

Clauses are a grammatical unit of language (like 'word groups' or 'sentences') which are fundamental to building complex meaning.

In this lesson, we're going to learn about what clauses are and what they're made of, so that when we get to writing complex sentences, you will be better able to see what's going on.

Compared to the simple sentences and the connectors lessons, this one might feel a bit more abstract and grammatical, but bear with us! Understanding clause structure will help down the track, we promise!

Do I need to have done the 'Simple Sentences' and 'Connectors' lessons before I do this one?

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