Subordinate Clause

Subordinate Clause :

Conjunctions connect words or groups of words.

Conjunctions are either coordinate or subordinate.

A coordinate conjunction connects words or groups of words that are independent of each other.

1. Hay and grain are sold here.
2. Will you take tea or coffee?
3. He was pale but undaunted.
4. The messenger replied courteously but firmly.
5. The troops embarked rapidly but without confusion.
6. Noon came, and the task was still unfinished.
7. We must hide here until night falls and the street is deserted.

In each of the first four sentences, the conjunction (and, or, but) connects single words that are in the same construction (subjects, objects, predicate adjectives, adverbs). In the fifth, but connects an adverb with an adverbial phrase (both being modifiers of the verb embarked). In the sixth, AND joins the two coordinate clauses of a compound sentence. In the seventh, AND joins two coordinate clauses which, taken together, make up the subordinate clause until ... deserted. This clause may therefore be called a compound subordinate clause.

A subordinate conjunction connects a subordinate clause with the clause on which it depends.

1. Harmon did not quail, though he saw the danger.
2. Take this seat, if you prefer.
3. I hesitated because I remembered your warning.
4. Unless you reform, your career will be ruined.

The chief coordinate conjunctions are….

and (both ... and)
not only ... but also
or (either ... or)
nor (neither ... nor)

Several of these are much used for transition, whether from sentence to sentence or from one paragraph to another.

Such are however, moreover, therefore, then, nevertheless, notwithstanding, yet, still.

Then is an adverb when it denotes time, a conjunction when it denotes consequence or the like.

1. Then the boat glided up to the pier. [Time.]

2. Men are imperfect creatures: we must not, then, expect them to be angels. [Consequence.]

YET and STILL are adverbs when they express time or degree, conjunctions when they connect.

1. We have not started yet. [Time.]
2. It is still raining. [Time.]
3. This hatchet is dull, but that is duller still. [Degree.]
4. I miss him, yet I am glad he went. [Conjunction.]
5. I like dogs; still I do not care to own one. [Conjunction.]

FOR and NOTWITHSTANDING may be either prepositions or conjunctions.


I am waiting for you. We must go, for it is late.

Jane is coming, notwithstanding the storm. It is a hard storm. She will come, notwithstanding.

Note : For is sometimes classified as a subordinate conjunction, but the fact that it may be used to begin an independent sentence (even when such a sentence opens a paragraph) justifies its inclusion among the coordinates.

The chief subordinate conjunctions are…..

although, though
as if (as though)
since (= because)
whether (whether ... or)

A few phrases may be regarded as compound conjunctions. Such are

in order that
so that
provided that
in case that
but that
as if
as though
even if

PROVIDED and IN CASE (without that) may also be used as conjunctions such as…..I will go provided it doesn’t rain.

The subordinate conjunction THAT is often omitted when it may readily be supplied.

1. He said [that] he was starving.

2. They feared [that] they were betrayed.

3. I cannot believe [that] you would try to injure me.

Note : This omission is similar to that of the relative pronoun (§ 151). It is extremely common, not only in colloquial language but also in literature, whether prose or verse.

As and since in the sense of because and while in the sense of though are conjunctions.

When denoting time, as is an adverb, while is a noun or an adverb, and since is an adverb or a preposition.

1. As (or since) you will not listen, I will say no more. [Conjunction.]

2. As we crossed the bridge, I looked down at the rushing stream. [Adverb.]

3. Ten years have passed since my uncle went to sea. [Adverb.]

4. The house has been empty since Christmas. [Preposition.]

Conjunctions used in pairs are called correlative conjunctions.

The chief correlatives are…..

1. both ... and
2. not only ... but also
3. either ... or
4. neither ... nor
5. though ... yet (still)
6. although ... yet (still)
7. since ... therefore
8. if ... then

Examples of correlatives may be seen in the following sentences.

1. Both lions and wolves are carnivorous.

2. The culprit looked both angry and ashamed.

3. William II is not only German Emperor but also King of Prussia.

4. Either brass or copper will do.

5. Neither Keats nor Shelley lived to be old.

6. He asked me whether I was an Austrian or a Russian.

7. Though the roads were very bad, yet he managed to reach Utica before midnight.

8. Although he has wronged me, still I cannot believe he is my enemy.

9. Since four is the square of two, therefore two is the square root of four.

10. If Allen’s testimony is true, then Gilbert’s must be false.

BUT is used as a subordinate conjunction in the sense of but that or unless.

1. There is no doubt but that they are murderers. - Shelley

2. Your uncle must not know but [= but that] you are dead. - Shakespeare

3. Ne’er may I look on day but [= unless] she tells your highness the truth. - Shakespeare [This use is obsolete.]

4. There is not a wave of the Seine but is associated in my mind with the first rise of the sandstones and forest pines of Fontainebleau. - Ruskin

5. There was nobody but loved her.

Note : In the last two examples the subject of the subordinate clause is omitted…..There is not a wave but [it] is associated,” “There was nobody but [he] loved her.” In such cases, but is sometimes regarded as a relative pronoun.

Notwithstanding is used as a subordinate conjunction in the sense of though.

1. I shall go, notwithstanding the road is said to be impassable.

Relative adverbs are similar in their use to conjunctions and are therefore often called conjunctive adverbs.

Note : Most conjunctions, historically considered, are merely adverbs (or adverbial phrases) which have come to be used in so peculiar a way as to form a special class among the parts of speech. Thus the adverbs SINCE and WHILE become conjunctions when they cease to denote time. BECAUSE is a corruption of the phrase by cause. BUT is developed from an old adverb meaning outside.

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