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Julie Frayn is the author of Suicide City, a Love Story (currently a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review 2013 Book Awards), and It Isn't Cheating if He's Dead. She also writes short stories (placing third in the Writer's Digest Write it Your Way contest with Samburger and Flies). Julie blogs at You can find her on twitter @JulieFrayn and facebook at

Canada Online News | Gonzo Online! Columinist

A subordinate clause is to a main clause as Leopold von Sacher-Masoch is to the Marquis de Sade. You can’t have the masochist without the sadist – although the sadist can stand alone. Or maybe that’s the cheese. Yes, the cheese stands alone.

A subordinate clause has a subject and a verb, but cannot stand on its own as a sentence, it needs a main clause. You’ll know a subordinate clause when you read it because you’ll likely be scratching your head, knitting your brow in confusion and thinking, “Huh?”

You can recognize a subordinate clause in two ways:

1. it’s the one without the whip.

2. it starts with a subordinate conjunction or relative pronoun.

Examples of subordinate conjunctions include after, although, unless, while, because, even if, provided that, before and since.

Relative pronouns include sister, brother – oh wait, that’s not right. They include whose, that, whichever, whom, and which.

If you write a subordinate clause without a main clause and then drop a period at the end of it, you’ve got a nonsensical sentence fragment. While I don’t mind a fragment that makes sense, nonsensical fragments are bad. Shame on you! Do you need a spanking?

Until Julie has more wine. Huh?

Since my baby left me. What?

Just because I wear stilettos. Um, yeah, whatever.

As you can see, all of the above are subordinate clauses. With no main clause to flog, I mean whip, or rather turn, yes, turn them into a viable sentence, you, dear reader, are left dazed and confused. So let’s play a little game, shall we?

Tie the main clause to the subordinate clause below – no actual ties required. Unless you want to mark up your computer screen, just draw lines in your head.

Until Julie has more wine,                  I’m happy as a freaking clam.

Since my baby left me,                      doesn’t mean I own handcuffs.

Just because I wear stilettos,              she won’t shake it on the dance floor.

You have just been schooled. Disobedience – I mean, insubordination, no, sorry - lonely subordinate clauses will no longer be tolerated. I dominated your as…cension to higher grammatical knowledge.

Our valuable member has been with us since Sunday, 26 June 2016.

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