FEELS TERRORIST! (momebie) wrote in fandom_grammar,

Friday Feature - Independent and Dependent Clauses

Independent and Dependent Clauses

With examples from Trigun, Harry Potter, Death Note, Doctor Who, and Torchwood.

It's easy, for the most part, to tell the difference between an independent and a dependent clause. An independent clause will contain a subject and a predicate and stand on its own. A dependent clause may also contain a subject and verb, but will depend on the rest of the sentence for context. It will sound out of place on its own. While the problem with the use of independent versus dependent clauses is usually one of punctuation, it won't hurt to look a little further into them before moving on.

Independent Clauses

Vash looked up at the fifth moon.

Remus pushed his chair away from the table.

Light coughed to cover his laugh.

Each of these sentences expresses a complete thought. We know who the subject of the sentence is and what they are doing. When a sentence that stands on its own has only a single clause, it is always an independent clause.

It is also possible to link together two independent clauses and have them be grammatically correct. This can be done one of three ways:

The first way to link together independent clauses is to use an Independent Marker Word. These words can be used at the beginning of a sentence that stands on its own, but are more commonly used to connect two independent clauses. Some common Independent Marker Words are: however, furthermore, also, nevertheless, moreover, consequently, and therefore. When being used to link two independent clauses together, an Independent Marker Word must be prefaced by a semi-colon.

Vash looked up at the fifth moon; nevertheless, he could see Wolfwood's approach out of the corner of his eye.

Remus pushed his chair away from the table; consequently, he could no longer reach his butterbeer.

Light coughed to cover his laugh; however, L wasn't fooled for a moment.

You can also link independent clauses together with semi-colons without the use of an Independent Marker Word.

Vash looked up at the fifth moon; it was the largest and brightest piece of rock in the sky.

Remus pushed his chair away from the table; he was finished with this conversation for the night.

Light coughed to cover his laugh; he didn't want L to catch his insubordinance.

When deciding whether you should link two independent clauses or leave them as separate sentences, it is important to know that ideally, when independent clauses are connected, it is because one of them relies on the other for context. For instance, you should not link two clauses that do not relate to one another.

Incorrect: Wolfwood rides a motorcycle; Knives has an agenda.

Correct: Wolfwood rides a motorcycle. Knives has an agenda.

The third way to link independent clauses is with the use of a conjunction. Common conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. This is usually done with the aid of a comma. Some writers will leave out the comma in a sentence with short, balanced independent clauses. If there is any doubt, then use the comma.

Vash looked up at the fifth moon, and it had never been more clear.

Remus pushed his chair away from the table, but he still felt suffocated by the animosity in the room.

Light coughed to cover his laugh, but he didn't fool anyone.

Dependent Clauses

Many people will make the mistake of saying that a dependent clause cannot make sense on its own, but this isn't strictly true. There are many dependent clauses that can make sense without their independent counterparts, but are still subordinate to the rest of the sentence for their context. There are marker words for dependent clauses as well. Some of the most commonly used Dependent Marker Words are although, because, even though, even if, since, unless, whenever, and while.

Whenever Rose sees snow...

...even if Jack had never gotten what he needed.

...because Ianto was more than just a tea boy.

The clauses 'Jack had never gotten what he needed' and 'Ianto was more than just a tea boy' can stand on their own. However, they are dependent on the rest of the sentence for context and meaning.

Whenever Rose sees snow, she can't help but remember that Christmas Day.

Their friendship was something he cherished, even if Jack had never gotten what he needed.

It went without saying that he'd know how to aim and shoot, because Ianto was more than just a tea boy.

Dependent clauses are often adverb clauses. This type of clause acts as an adverb and modifies the independent clause it's connected to. It answers the questions when and why, and states oppositions and conditions of the independent clause.


As you have seen, punctuation can play a large part in whether an independent or dependent clause is effective and used properly. When you run across clauses used improperly in fan fiction, it is generally because of improper punctuation. The following formulas should simplify any problem you might have in making the decision of what punctuation to use.

  • Vash gave the bottle a slight shake. The liquid inside quivered.

  • Remus swallowed the mouthful of firewhiskey. He immediately regretted it as it burned it's way down his throat.

  • Light wrapped the chain around his hand a few times. L jerked forward as the slack disappeared.

  • Ianto knocked on the door to Jack's room. He waited in the hallway for fifteen minutes.

  • IC; IC.
  • Vash swore as he reached to wipe the blood from his lip; Wolfwood had never done anything like that before.

  • Sirius lowered his head and tried not to grin; Remus pushed his shoulder so hard he fell off the bed.

  • L let the honey drizzle into his open mouth; Light sneered in disgust.

  • Martha looked over the Tardis' control panels at Ten; his face glowed green in the light from buttons and knobs.

  • IC; IM, IC.
  • Vash was alone in the cell; however, he could feel another presence coming closer.

  • James burst into the dorm room without knocking; consequently, Remus and Sirius didn't have time to come up with a good reason for being nearly naked, and in such close proximity to one another.

  • Misa knew if she could only meet Kira that she could help him; moreover, she felt that she could make him love her.

  • The Master had set up the Angel Network, worked out every detail; nevertheless, he found The Doctor impossible to defeat.

  • DC, IC.
  • Although Meryl had never been outside of her small town, she found she felt at home in any place with Vash by her side.

  • Even though Remus was cursing through clenched teeth, he had to admit that the prank had been very clever.

  • Since L hadn't known when his birthday was, Watari marked a date on the calendar to celebrate.

  • Whenever Rose felt homesick, she would turn the phone about in her hands, and inevitably decide not to call her mother.

  • IC, DC.
  • Wolfwood didn't view Vash and the girls as family, because he'd never had one to begin with and didn't know what that felt like.

  • Peter knew he could count on the other Marauders to be honest, even if they couldn't count on him.

  • Ryuk couldn't care less what happened to Light, unless Light stopped giving him apples.

  • Owen placed his forehead against the cool glass of the window and thought of Diane, while across Cardiff, Gwen tried to forget that she had ever known him.

  • How to Check Your Writing

    As you have seen, it is easy to keep independent and dependent clauses in their proper places if you know what you're looking at. The easiest thing is to spot indicator words and check your punctuation for proper usage. Reading clauses out loud might also help to determine whether or not they are dependent on other parts of the text.
    Tags: !feature, author:momebie, punctuation, structure:sentences

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