A clause is a group of words, which has a subject and a predicate with a finite verb of its own.

For example,

  • Arjun fought many battles.

The noun "Arjun" is the subject (doer). "many battles" is the object (the action done) of the verb fought. The subject (doer) may be a noun (Arjun) or a pronoun (we, I, you, he, she, it, they). 

To identify the subject ask the question - who. To identify the object ask the question - what.

Types of Clauses

Clause has a subject, verb, and may be with or without an object. Each clause looks like a sentence but it is not independent. A sentence with more than one clause has:

  1. Main (Principal) clause or Independent clause

  2. Subordinate clause or Dependent clause

An independent clause does not depend on other clauses to make a complete statement. A subordinate clause cannot stand by itself and depends on the main clause to be meaningful.

It is linked with a subordinate sentence connector (that, which, though). Each subordinate clause has a function to perform. Subordinate clause functions as a noun clause or an adjective clause or an adverb clause.

Types of Subordinate Clauses

Subordinate clauses are of three types:

  1. Noun clauses function as subject or object, responds to question - Who and What

  2. Adjective Clause qualifies or tells about the subject or object, responds to the question Who and Which

  3. Adverb clause tells about time, place, reason, cause, manner Where, When, Why, How, Because

Subordinate noun clauses function as object. The noun clause does the same function in a complex sentence which a noun or pronoun does in a simple sentence.


1. Rajesh informed the visitor that the admission notice has been published in the newspaper.

  • Principal clause: Rajesh informed the visitors
  • Subordinate clause: that the admission notice has been published in the newspaper
  • Function: Noun clause

2. My friend, who was coming from Mumbai, has postponed his visit.

  • Principal clause: My friend has postponed his visit
  • Subordinate clause: who was coming from Mumbai
  • Function: Adjective clause

3. Yogesh cannot take the final exam because he is unwell.

  • Principal clause: Yogesh cannot take the final exam
  • Subordinate clause: because he is unwell
  • Function: Adverb clause