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English definition of “clause”

clause

noun [C] (GRAMMAR)    /klɔːz/ US  /klɑːz/ specialized
B2 a group of words, consisting of a subject and a finite form of a verb: In the sentence "I can't cook very well but I make qu ite good pancakes", both "I can't cook very well" and "I make good pancakes" are main/independent clauses (= they are of equal importance and could each exist as a separate sentence). In the sentence "I can't cook very well but I make good pancakes," both "I can't cook very well" and "I make good pancakes" are main/independent clauses (= they are of equal importance and could each exist as a separate sentence). In the sentence "I'll get you some stamps if I go to town", "if I go to town" is a subordinate/dependent clause (= it is not as important as the main part of the sentence and could not exist as a separate sentence). In the sentence "I'll get you some stamps if I go to town," "if I go to town" is a subordinate/dependent clause (= it is not as important as the main part of the sentence and could not exist as a separate sentence).Sentences and expressions Grammar:ClausesSee moreGrammar:Clauses: introductionA clause is the basic unit of grammar. Typically a main clause is made up of a subject (s) (a noun phrase) and a verb phrase (v). Sometimes the verb phrase is followed by other elements, e.g objects (o), complements (c), adjuncts (ad). These other elements are sometimes essential to complete the meaning of the clause:See moreGrammar:Main (independent) clauses and subordinate (dependent) clausesMain (or independent) clauses can form sentences on their own. They aren’t dependent on other clauses. They are always finite (they must contain a verb which shows tense).See moreGrammar:Clauses: coordinatedWe can combine clauses of the same grammatical type to form sentences using coordinating conjunctions:See moreGrammar:Clauses: finite and non-finiteSee moreGrammar:Finite clausesFinite clauses must contain a verb which shows tense. They can be main clauses or subordinate clauses:See moreGrammar:Non-finite clausesNon-finite clauses contain a verb which does not show tense. We usually use non-finite verbs only in subordinate clauses. We usually understand the time referred to from the context of the main clause. We often use a non-finite clause when the subject is the same as the subject in the main clause:See moreGrammar:Clauses and sentencesSee moreGrammar:What is a clause?A clause is the basic unit of grammar. A clause must contain a verb. Typically a clause is made up of a subject, a verb phrase and, sometimes, a complement:See moreGrammar:What is a sentence?A sentence is a unit of grammar. It must contain at least one main clause. It can contain more than one clause. In writing, a sentence typically begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop:See moreGrammar:Clause typesThere are four basic types of main clause: declaratives (statements), interrogatives (questions), imperatives (orders/instructions) and exclamatives (used for exclamations).See moreGrammar:Declarative clausesDeclarative clauses most commonly function as statements. The usual word order is subject (s) + verb (v) + x. Declaratives can be affirmative or negative. They make statements about how things are and how they are not.See moreGrammar:Interrogative clausesInterrogative clauses most commonly function as questions. The usual word order is (wh-word) + auxiliary/modal verb (aux/m) + subject + verb + x:See moreGrammar:Imperative clausesImperative clauses most commonly function as commands, instructions or orders. The usual word order is verb + x. We do not usually include the subject in an imperative clause. We use the base form of the verb:See moreGrammar:Exclamative clausesExclamative clauses usually have one of the following word orders:See moreGrammar:Cleft sentences (It was in June we got married.)We use cleft sentences, especially in speaking, to connect what is already understood to what is new to the listener. In a cleft sentence, a single message is divided (cleft) into two clauses. This allows us to focus on the new information.See moreGrammar:It-cleft sentencesIt-clauses are the most common type of cleft clause. The information that comes after it is emphasised for the listener. The clause which follows the it-clause is connected using that and it contains information that is already understood. We often omit that in informal situations when it is the object of the verb:See moreGrammar:Wh-cleft sentences (What I need is a holiday)Wh-cleft sentences are most often introduced by what, but we can also use why, where, how, etc. The information in the wh-clause is typically old or understood information, while the information in the following clause is new and in focus:See more
(Definition of clause noun (GRAMMAR) from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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