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.

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

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.

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

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

While 'but' creates a concession relationship:

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

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!

Here are the things you should feel comfortable with before starting this lesson.

From Simple Sentences:

  • You should understand that sentences are made up of people, things, actions, qualities, times, and places.
  • You should know that a simple sentence is a sentence that contains only one action.
  • You should feel comfortable writing simple sentences.

From Connectors and an Introduction to Complex Meaning:

  • You should understand that simple sentences can be joined together using connectors, which create a relationship between the two sentences.
  • You should feel comfortable using connectors to create different kinds of relationships.

If you're uncertain about any of those points, we recommend going back over the relevant lesson before you embark on this one.

It will also help if you are familiar with word groups: noun groups, verb groups, adjective groups, adverb groups, and prepositional phrases.

We won't ask you to write complicated word groups in this lesson, but it's useful to be able to recognise them when you are learning about clauses!

Check out the word groups lessons if you want a refresher on any of these.