Describe the characteristics of the four major clause types in English.Advanced grammar.

Expert Answers
missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the 4 major clause types you will see include: independent clauses, noun clauses, adjective clauses, and adverb clauses.

Every clause has a subject and a verb.

All of the dependent or subordinate clauses (noun, adjective, and adverb clauses) have a conjunctive adverb or subordinating conjunction that makes the clause feel like it is not a complete thought unless you add something before or after it.

An independent clause can exist completely on it's own:

My cake fell flat in the oven.

It is essentially a simple sentence that can be within a sentence, or be all by itself like you see above. It could also appear like this:

My cake fell flat in the oven because I forgot the baking soda.

That little word because made the non-bold part of this sentence a dependent clause, specifically an adverb clause. Adverb clauses include a subject and verb and start with a subordinating conjunction that answers a question like because, since, when, due to, or under these circumstances. Adverb clauses function as adverbs, they tell something about the verb.

Noun clauses often begin with who, whoever, what, whatever, or whom. They function as subjects or objects in sentences(nouns).

Whoever turned off the light is going to pay!

An adjective clause helps describe a noun. It will often function as an appositive phrase or feel parenthetical.

My brother, who I love with all my heart, crashed into my car.

Good luck with your homework, this is just a quick overview.