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.