Learn 1000s of English words with our vocabulary builder.
What Is an Independent Clause? (with Examples)An independent clause is a clause that can stand alone as a sentence (i.e., it expresses a complete thought).
An independent clause, like all clauses, has a subject and verb.
When there are no dependent clauses in the same sentence as an independent clause, the independent clause is a simple sentence. For example:
- I like coconut macaroons. (This is an independent clause and simple sentence.)
- I like coconut macaroons even though I dislike coconut. (This is an independent clause and a dependent clause. This is a complex sentence.)
Examples of Independent ClausesHere are some examples of independent clauses (shaded). Notice how they could stand alone as sentences. (This is the difference between an independent clause and a dependent clause.)
- Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep. (Fran Lebowitz)
- The best defense against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off. (Anon)
- I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something. (Jackie Mason)
- Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. (Will Rogers, 1879-1935)
- My one regret in life is that I am not someone else. (Woody Allen)
USE A COMMA BEFORE A CONJUNCTION THAT JOINS TWO INDEPENDENT CLAUSESWriters are often unsure whether to use a comma before a coordinate conjunction (i.e., a word like and and but). You should use a comma before a coordinate conjunction that joins two independent clauses. For example:
- Toby is smart, and punctual.
- He is smart, and he is punctual. (There is a comma before and because it joins two independent clauses.)
THE MAIN TYPES OF SENTENCEA sentence with two or more independent clauses is called a compound sentence. Here are the basic types of sentence with the independent clauses shaded:
A Quick Test
- This test has questions.
- You will score at least 5 points for a correct answer.
- You will score bonus points for answering the questions quickly.
- Be careful though. Wrong answers score 0 points.
- The maximum score is .
- Do you disagree with something on this page?
- Did you spot a typo?