An independent clause has two characteristics:
- it contains a subject and a verb.
- it can stand alone as a sentence.
- I slept all night" is a complete sentence: I is the subject,
slept is the verb,
and it expresses a complete thought, i.e. can stand alone.
- "The snow falling and school being canceled" is NOT
a complete sentence. It cannot stand alone--
"falling" and "being" are participles and cannot function as verbs.
To complete the sentence, create verbs:
- The snow fell and school was canceled.
- The snow falling and school being canceled, I stayed home.
- "When the snow falls from the heavy clouds moving quickly from the west"
is NOT a complete sentence. It cannot stand alone--
"When" makes this a dependent clause.
Note: Independent clauses can begin with connecting words such as
and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet, therefore, thus, consequently.
Dependent clauses cannot stand alone; they need an independent clause to
complete the meaning:
- Adjective dependent clauses begin with a relative pronoun
(who, which, that, whom, whose)
- The day began with a fierce rainstorm, which was forecasted earlier.
NOT The day began with a fierce rainstorm. Which was forecasted earlier.
- Adverb dependent clauses begin with an adverbial conjunction
(after, although, as, as if, because, before, even if, even though, if, since,
though, unless, until, what, whatever, when, whenever, whether, while)
- He refused to let his father drive him to school until his father got a new car.
NOT He refused to let his father drive him to school. Until his father got a new car.
Note: A sentence fragment occurs when a dependent clause is not attached to an independent clause. To avoid sentence fragments, it is important to be able to identify dependent and independent clauses.