These are examples of dependent clauses forming sentence fragments.  Notice how odd they sound.  Find the subjects and verbs in these dependent clauses. The conjunctions have been put in italics.

1.  When the sorcerer(subject) cast (verb) the spell.

2.  Since the troll(subject) lived (verb) under the bridge.

3. Although the princess (subject) captured (verb) the ogre.

Find the subjects and verbs in each of these sentences to see independent clauses. In sentences that contain more than one independent clause, the conjunction or semi-colon has been put in bold type.

1.   The unicorn (subject) nibbled (verb) the dandelion leaves.  There is No Conjunction in this simple sentence.

2.   An adventurer hid behind a rock to watch the unicorn, and she  took a rope out of her pack.

3.  The adventurer tied a noose in the rope; she pulled some oats out of her pack, and she threw the oats to the unicorn.

4.  The unicorn watched the adventurer out of the corner of his eye; he happily ate the oats ; he ate the rope, too; then, he bounded away.

Number 4 is a run-on. The last clause should be separated since it can stand on its own.  The unicorn watched the adventurer out of the corner of his eye; he happily ate the oats the adventurer threw before him; he ate the rope, too!  Then, he bounded away.

A sentence can also contain one or two independent clauses with one or two dependent clauses.  Once in awhile you may see or write a sentence with three dependent clauses, but more  than three dependent clauses in a sentence will also create a run-on.  In the numbered sentences, find the subjects are underlined, the verbs are in bold,  the conjunctions are in italics, and punctuation marks for the conjunction are underlined.

1.  When(conjunction) the lonely princess looked up,  D
she saw three swans, one white and two black,  swimming along in the stream.  I

2.  Although all the swans were beautiful,  D
the princess distrusted the white swan.   I

3.  The  white swan turned into a horrible ogre, I
and the two black swans turned into handsome princes  I
as the princess fled up a tree.  D

4.  The ogre grabbed the two princes  I
as the princes drew their swords  D
while the princess clobbered the ogre with her parasol.  D

5.  After the princes tied up the unconscious ogre D
they assisted the princess down from the tree  I
since her skirt had caught in the branches.  D

6.  When the princes had tried catching the ogre with magic,    D
their spells had caught them too.  I

7.  The princess asked the princes  I
if they could turn the ogres into parrots D
because she had been hunting for parrots and had brought a cage. D

8.  Very carefully the princes cast a spell on the ogres  I
while the princess picked up her cage. D

9.  When the ogre turned into a parrot,   D
one prince untied the parrot  I
while the other prince pushed the parrot into the cage.  D

10.  Since the parrot had originally been a parrot, not an ogre,  D
 it was very happy to be a beautiful parrot again. I

Now go back and underline the dependent clauses and write D under them; then circle the independent clauses and write I under them.

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copyright 1999 Cynthia Joyce Clay