Writing for a Good Clause

When I was in high school, I remember detesting grammar lessons. So I don’t blame you if you’ve kept that torch lit. But here’s the thing. If you’re a writer, saying you’re uninterested in grammar is saying you want to write but don’t want to know how to put words together. As I’ve said to my clients many times, and as I’ve reviewed in earlier posts, learning your craft is no different from a painter learning how to mix oil paints to achieve the right color or selecting a particular brush out of many.

In the next few posts, I’m going to take a closer look at how sentences are put together. Earlier posts on sentence structure include an overview of why the Subject + Verb + Object structure should be your default, but before I go further, let’s do a quick review of clauses. A clause is a piece of information. Here are some examples:

A large car

Jayne’s knitted cap

Under the bed

You may have noticed something about these clauses. If not, ask yourself: are they sentences? If you said no, good work. Although they give us info, they can’t stand on their own. They’re destined to be stuck to another clause. One might say they’re dependent on more words to help make a complete sentence. That’s why the above examples are called dependent clauses. They need help to reach “sentence” status. Here’s how we make sentences from the dependent clauses above.

A large car was parked outside.

Jayne’s knitted cap was the subject of ridicule.

A monster is hiding under the bed.

Clauses that can stand alone are called independent clauses. They don’t need any additional information in order to be called sentences, all they need are a capital letter at the front, and a full stop (period) at the back.

Knowing the difference between types of clauses means, for example, you’ll be able to avoid things like comma splices, and you’ll be able to use semicolons without fear.

Looking for more tips? Here’s what’s up so far. More to come!

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