3 Types of Subordinate Clauses (Examples & Worksheet)

In this blog post, we will explore the three types of subordinate clauses in-depth, providing examples and a worksheet to help reinforce your understanding. By the end of this post, you will have a better grasp of how to identify and use subordinate clauses in your writing to add nuance and complexity to your sentences.

What is a Subordinate Clause?

A subordinate clause adds extra information to a sentence. A subordinate clause is a type of dependent clause that is unable to stand alone as a complete sentence. It functions as a part of a larger sentence by modifying the meaning of the main clause or by serving as a noun, adjective, or adverb within the sentence.

A subordinate clause typically begins with a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun and cannot convey a complete thought on its own. Instead, it relies on the main clause to provide context and meaning.

For example, the subordinate clause in the sentence “I’m not going out because it’s raining” is “because it’s raining.” This subordinate clause could not stand alone as a sentence; it needs the main clause “I’m not going out” in order to make sense. A subordinate clause typically begins with a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun.

Subordinate clauses are a fundamental component of complex sentences. They serve as building blocks to add meaning and depth to the main clause. In English, there are three main types of subordinate clauses: adjective clauses, adverb clauses, and noun clauses. Each of these types has a specific function in a sentence and can drastically alter the meaning of the sentence they are a part of.

Types of Subordinate Clauses

There are three main types of subordinate clauses:

  1. Adjective (or relative) clauses
  2. Adverb clauses
  3. Noun clauses

Types of Subordinate Clauses

1. Adjective clauses

Adjective clauses modify nouns or pronouns and are also known as relative clauses. They are introduced by relative pronouns such as “who,” “whose,” “that,” and “which” or by relative adverbs such as “when,” “where,” and “why.”

For example:

Below are 10 examples of adjective clauses.

  1. The fact that the girl lives next door is very friendly.
  2. I really enjoyed the book you lent me.
  3. I loved the cake, which was made from scratch.
  4. I learned a lot about history from the house that was built in 1920.
  5. I admire the team, whose members are all volunteers.
  6. I watched the movie, which was directed by Steven Spielberg.
  7. I thanked the person whom I met yesterday.
  8. I felt scared when the dog that barked at me appeared.
  9. I trust the doctor, who is also a trained chef.
  10. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant, where we had dinner last night.

2. Adverb clauses

Adverb clauses modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs and are introduced by adverbial subordinating conjunctions such as after, although, as, because, before, how, if, once, since, than, that, though, until, when, whenever, wherever, and while.

For example:

Here are 10 examples of adverb clauses:

  1. After the game ended, we went out for pizza.
  2. Although she was tired, she decided to keep studying.
  3. As I was walking home, I heard a strange noise.
  4. Because it was raining, we stayed indoors all day.
  5. Before the concert began, we had time to grab a snack.
  6. If you don’t hurry, you will miss the train.
  7. Once I finish this project, I can relax for a bit.
  8. Since it was his birthday, we bought him a cake.
  9. Until the sun comes up, we will keep dancing.
  10. While I was driving, I saw a beautiful sunset.

3. Noun clauses

A noun clause is a type of subordinate clause that functions as a noun within a sentence. It can serve as the subject or object of a sentence, or as the object of a preposition. Noun clauses are introduced by subordinating conjunctions such as which, what, how, and who.

For example:

Here are ten examples of noun clauses with the noun clauses in quotation marks:

  1. What he said was very interesting to me.
  2. Whether we go to the concert is up to you.
  3. That she won the competition was no surprise to anyone.
  4. Whoever stole my phone will be in big trouble.
  5. How we solve this problem is a matter of great importance.
  6. What you told me yesterday has been on my mind all day.
  7. If it rains tomorrow, we’ll have to cancel the picnic.
  8. That he never apologized was disappointing to everyone involved.
  9. Who she is dating is none of our business.
  10. Whether they will arrive on time remains to be seen.

Function Of Subordinate Clause

Subordinate clauses have various functions within a sentence. They are used to add additional information, provide context, and modify the meaning of the main clause.

Here are some of the main functions of subordinate clauses:

  1. Subject: A subordinate clause can function as the subject of a sentence, taking the place of a noun. For example, “That he is coming” is the subject of the sentence “That he is coming is good news.”
  2. Object: A subordinate clause can function as the direct or indirect object of a verb. For example, “I know that she is coming” – “that she is coming” is the direct object of the verb “know.”
  3. Object of a Preposition: A subordinate clause can function as the object of a preposition. For example, “I am interested in what he has to say” – “what he has to say” is the object of the preposition “in.”
  4. Adjective Modifier: A subordinate clause can function as an adjective, modifying a noun or pronoun. For example, “The book that I read last night was really good” – “that I read last night” modifies the noun “book.”
  5. Adverb Modifier: A subordinate clause can function as an adverb, modifying a verb, adjective, or other adverbs. For example, “After I finish my work, I’ll go for a walk” – “After I finish my work” modifies the verb “go.”

In summary, subordinate clauses serve as building blocks to add meaning and depth to a sentence. They function as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs to provide additional information and modify the meaning of the main clause. Understanding the different functions of subordinate clauses can help writers create more complex and nuanced sentences.

10 Examples Of Subordinate Clause

Here are ten examples of subordinate clauses:

  1. Although she was tired, she stayed up late to finish her work. (adverb clause)
  2. That he won the race was a surprise to everyone. (noun clause)
  3. When I wake up, I always drink a cup of coffee. (adverb clause)
  4. Whoever finishes first will receive a prize. (noun clause)
  5. Because it was raining, we decided to stay inside. (adverb clause)
  6. The dress that I wore to the party was a gift from my sister. (adjective clause)
  7. If I had more time, I would read more books. (adverb clause)
  8. Where she lives is a mystery to us. (noun clause)
  9. Since he left the company, the atmosphere at work has improved. (adverb clause)
  10. What she said made me very happy. (noun clause)

Subordinate Clauses – Worksheet

Download this worksheet in PDF, Here.

types of subordinate clauses worksheet


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