Sentences with More Than One Clause

Student Writing Dictation

I used to think that my natural speech flow is correct in any case. Moreover, I am sure that a half of the Earth population shares my view regarding this issue. However, our self-assurance causes the main problems connected with a sentence construction. In that regard, we propose you to set aside some time to find out new rules regarding sentence structure and brush up your memories when it comes to different types of clauses.

Here is a paragraph from a book of strange but true stories.

Attempted Suicide

A New York painter decided to end it all by throwing himself off the Empire State Building. Ho took the lift up to the 79th floor, found a convenient window and jumped. A gust of wind caught him as he fell and blew him into the studious of NBC Television on the 83th floor. There was a live show going out, so the interviewer decided to ask the would-be suicide a few questions. He admitted that he had changed his mind as soon as he had jumped.

General Information to Know About Main Clauses

A main clause is one that could stand alone as a sentence.

He took the lift up to the 79 floor. or A gust of wind caught him.

For the structure of a main clause, we can use and, or, but, and so to join two or more main clauses.

Ho took the lift up to the 79th floor, and he jumped.

He could go through with it, or he could go back down again.

He jumped from the 79th floor, but he survived.

It was a live show, so the host invited him on.

Two main clauses linked together like this are “co-ordinate clauses.” When the subject of the two clauses is the same, we can often leave it out, especially after and and or.

He took the lift up to the 79th floor and (he) jumped.

We can also omit the auxiliary verb to avoid repeating it.

He could go through with it or (he could) go back down again.


Different Sentences Written on Blackboard

A sub-clause cannot stand alone as a complete sentence.

A gust of wind caught him as he fell.

Here as he fell is “subordinate clause” or sub-clause. In such a type of clauses, we often use a linking word like as, that, when, if, or because. And sometimes we use a relative pronoun such as who or which.

A man who jumped off the Empire State Building was miraculously saved.

The word order in a sub-clause is the same as in a main clause.

Finite and Non-Finite Clauses

A non-finite clause has an infinitive, a gerund, or a participle.

The interviewer decided to ask him a few questions.

He regrets now having jumped.

Finding a convenient window, he threw himself out of it.

These non-finite verb forms often have no subjects, but they can sometimes have one.

The show having ended, the man left the studio.

Some patterns with participles (Finding …, The show having ended, …) can be formal or literary in style.

Different Clause Combinations

One can link two or more clauses together. For instance, in speech, we can hear a number of main clauses linked by and.

Firstly, he came home and prepared his dinner and then washed the dishes.

However, it would be very easy if the life consisted only from main clauses. Sub-clauses are also used. Let us look at the structure of these sentences spoken in conversation.

Main clause – Adverbial clause – Main clause – Adverbial clause

He was enrolled when he was eighteen, and he has survived it because she has been writing him every day.

Main clause – To-infinitive clause – Main clause – To-infinitive clause – Adverbial clause

It takes me an hour and a quarter to get to New York, and it takes Kathy about an hour and a half to get to Boston because they’re such bad roads.

Here are some real examples of clause combinations in written English.

Adverbial clause – Main clause – Main clause

When John was about eleven years old I used to go and live in another city and saw him very rarely since then.

Main clause – Adverbial clause – Gerund clause

Many cities have drive-in movies, where you can watch a film without leaving your car.

Main clause – To-infinitive clause – Gerund clause

Most Inuit people use refrigerators to stop their food from getting cold.

What We Put After the Verb?


When we add a sub-clause to a main clause, the type of the sub-clause we can use often depends on the verb in the main clause. For example, after the verb accept we can use a that-clause but not a to-infinitive.

My brother accepted that he should apologize.

But with agree we can use either a that-clause or a to-infinitive.

My brother agreed that he should apologize.

My brother agreed to apologize.

Here are some possible patterns that come after a verb.

Pattern After a Verb Example
That-clause I think (that) he is busy
Object + that-clause She promised him (that) she would be there.
Wh-clause I wonder why he is so angry.
Object + wh-clause Remind me what the password is.
Question words + to-infinitive Have you chosen what to buy?
Object + question word + to-infinitive No one has ever told him where to study.
To-infinitive We are aiming to be back by six.
Object + to-infinitive We asked Tom to come.
For + object + to-infinitive I have arranged for my mail to be sent on.
Object + infinitive without to This film never makes me cry.
Gerund I suggested staying a bit longer.
Object + gerund They persuaded us saying compliments.
Preposition + gerund I am afraid of eating this meat.
Object + preposition + gerund You have to warn him against going in that club.

Overall, the question of sentence structure and its different types of clauses is very sensitive as far as grammar is not turned to stone, it is a live substance. Who knows what expects us tomorrow. The main thing is always to stay abreast of the latest changes and shifts in language.

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