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Subordination - Easy Learning Grammar

When two or more clauses are joined by a conjunction other than and, but, or, or yet, one of the clauses is the main clause; the other clauses are subordinate clauses. The different types of subordinate clause include noun clauses,
  • What matters most is that you treat everyone fairly.
adverbial clauses,
  • They went outside as soon as the rain stopped.
relative clauses,
  • This is the problem that we’re facing at the moment.
  • We stayed in Inverness, which is in the Scottish Highlands.
conditional clauses,
  • Maureen plans to live in Australia if she can get a job there.
and reported clauses.
  • She told me that Philip was in France.
Each of the subordinate clauses is associated with an introductory word that signals what type of clause it is that follows.
  • After she had read the diary, she returned it to the drawer.
  • As they were going downstairs, the phone rang.
  • They aren’t coming because they’ve had an argument.
These words are called subordinating conjunctions. They include:
  • the WH- words
  • words like since, if, when, because
  • the word that, either on its own or used with another word e.g. so that or supposing that
  • a phrase ending in as, e.g. as soon as, as long as
  • Each of the subordinating clauses has a preferred position. For example, most adverbial clauses usually follow the main clause, although they can also come before the main clause.
  • Shall I do the shopping when I finish work?
  • When I finish work, I could do the shopping for you.
Reported clauses usually follow directly on from the main reporting clause. See Reporting speech.

Noun clauses

These are clauses that can be used as either the subject or the object of a sentence or in other places where a noun phrase is usually found. They are introduced by that
  • What I like about him is that he always tries his best.
or by a WH- word, e.g. who, when, where.
  • I don’t know where you live.
  • How the thief got in is a mystery.
  • Why she acts like this is beyond me.
Word order after a WH- word is the same as in a statement.
The subordinating conjunction that can often be omitted.
  • I think that he’ll succeed.
  • I think he’ll succeed.

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