Difference Between Dependent and Independent Clause

Main Difference – Dependent vs Independent Clause

A clause is a group of words that contain a subject and predicate. All sentences are made up of clauses. Some clauses can express a complete idea whereas some clauses cannot. Based on this ability to convey complete ideas, clauses are categorized into the two groups dependent and independent clauses. The main difference between dependent and independent clause is that dependent clauses cannot express a complete thought while independent clauses can express a complete thought.

What is a Dependent Clause

A dependent clause can be defined as a group of words that contains a subject and predicate, but doesn’t express a complete thought. Since it doesn’t convey a complete idea, it cannot stand alone. It is usually a supporting part of a sentence and needs an independent clause to complete its meaning.

A dependent clause is generally preceded by a subordinating conjunction. When such a conjunction is added to the beginning of an independent clause, it can be turned into a dependent clause.

We’ll buy a new car when we have saved enough money.

They couldn’t start the meeting until the treasurer arrived.

Although he liked novels, he bought a poetry collection.

Dependent clauses can act as adjectives, adverbs, and nouns.

Adjective Clause:

The old man who lives by the ocean sold me this lamp.

This film, which has a unique plot, didn’t get an award.

Adverb Clause:

We can’t leave unless you open the gate.

Finish your dinner before the food gets cold.

Noun Clause:

Whoever did this will have to pay.

What you did was not right.

Difference Between Dependent and Independent Clause

My brother, who loves food, opened a restaurant.

What is an Independent Clause

An independent clause can be defined as a group of words that contain a subject and predicate and convey a complete idea. An independent clause can stand alone since it has the ability to express a complete thought. Every sentence has, at least, one independent sentence. When a sentence subject has two independent clauses, a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon can be used to separate them.

She made an apple pie; everybody loved it.

He wants to go to Spain because his grandparents live in Madrid.

I can’t help you unless you tell me your problem.

The cat knocked over the lamp when they were asleep.

Even if you don’t understand the question, you should write a long answer.

Main Difference - Dependent vs Independent Clause

He wants to go to Paris because his sister lives there.

Difference Between Dependent and Independent Clause


Dependent Clause is a group of words that contain a subject and a predicate but doesn’t express a complete idea.

Independent Clause is a group of words that contain a subject and a predicate and expresses a complete idea.

Complete Thought

Dependent Clause does not convey a complete thought.

Independent Clause conveys a complete thought.


Dependent Clauses contain subordinating conjunctions.

Independent Clauses can be combined with coordinating conjunctions.


Dependent Clauses cannot be found in every sentence.

Independent Clauses can be found in every sentence.Difference Between Dependent and Independent Clause - infographic

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