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Better Grammar: Part 4: Dependent-Clause Fragments

Updated: Mar 7

Dependent clause fragments and how to correct them for writing better sentences
write better sentences

Introduction - Become better in grammar

In this article I explain the fourth kind of fragment – the dependent-clause fragment.

Even though a dependent clause has a subject and a verb, it cannot stand alone. To be a complete sentence it must depend on another clause.

Dependent clauses may begin with subordinating conjunctions or relative pronouns.

Relative pronouns include:




who or whom

Common Subordinating Conjunctions are:

after since

before if

though even though although

whenever unless

where until

whereas as

whether what because

Here are some examples in which the dependent-clause fragments are underlined.

In cities, houses are built close together. Whereas in the suburbs and the countryside, houses have large yards.

Before explorers started sailing around the world. Many people believed the world was flat.

We will succeed. If we try hard.

Correcting Dependent-Clause Fragments

Here's how to fix dependent-clause fragments:

  • Join the fragment to a complete sentence.

  • Add the words required to make it a complete idea. Sentences, as you will know, are single complete ideas.

Another way is to delete the subordinating conjunction.

Here are the previous examples of fragments, corrected using these two ways.

Deleting the subordinating conjunction

In cities, houses are built close together. (Whereas is deleted.)

In the suburbs and the countryside, houses have large yards.

Joining sentences

In cities, houses are built close together, whereas in the suburbs and the countryside, houses have large yards.

Before explorers started sailing around the world, many people believed the world was flat.

We will succeed if we try hard.

Very easy, right?

Your turn

Fix the dependent-clause fragments in these sentences.

I've been very lonely. Since you went away.

She's always right. Unless she's wrong.

We need to clean the house. Which we will do tomorrow.

Tom is always doing something important. Whenever his friends visit him.

Finally, here is something you could do whenever you write sentences.

This piece of advice applies to all four kinds of fragments, as well as to writing generally.

A sentence writing checklist

When you edit your writing, that is, checking for errors, ask yourself this question.

Are my sentences complete?

To answer that, check for these types of fragments (the ones I have explained in this series of articles).

  • · phrase fragments

  • · -ing and to / gerunds fragments

  • · explanatory fragments

  • · dependent-clause fragments

Go back and refresh your memory if you need to.


I hope this series of articles has helped you recognise and correct these kinds of fragments.

Now, you know how to avoid them in your writing.

When you compose sentences without fragments, your writing in English will improve.

Further Reading

Having good grammar should be an essential skill to getting good English. Read this article to learn why having good grammar is very important.

And, to read other articles on grammar, please choose from these informative articles to help you get better grammar.

© Apex English Tutoring Jan 2021 - Updated January 2024

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About Me

Hello and welcome!

My name is Michael Finemore and I am the owner-operator of Apex English Tutoring.

As an experienced English Teacher, I'm passionate about helping people turn their 'poor' English into great English, with easy and effective ways to practice.

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