Subordinating Ideas

Subordination involves adding subordinating clauses, which use a subordinating conjunction. This is a very technical definition and a more detailed explanation will be given later in this lesson. Coordination involves expanding sentences by adding information. This lesson will explain these two processes and detail how to avoid making errors while creating more complex sentences.


The first term we will examine is subordination. Earlier, you saw that the definition for subordination was adding subordinating clauses, which use a subordinating conjunction. I'm sure this definition does not really clear things up for you. Let's look closer at what subordinating clauses and conjunctions are.

First, we need to review what makes up a complete sentence. A subject, or a noun doing the action, and a predicate, or the verb and the rest of the words, are needed in order to have a complete sentence. Look at this simple sentence: 'I was chased by a dog.' What is the subject? 'I' is the subject. What is the predicate? 'Was chased' is the action, or verb, and the words that follow are all a part of the predicate.

Subordinate Clauses

If everyone wrote in these types of simple sentences, so much detail and explanation would be missing. Adding in clauses, which in simple terms are groups of words, can supply some of that missing information. For example, this sentence, 'While running through my neighbor's yard, I was chased by a dog,' gives a little more detail into why the dog may be chasing this person.

What clause was added to the original sentence? 'While running through my neighbor's yard' is the clause that was added. This is an example of a subordinate clause. Subordinate clauses cannot stand alone. Alone they are fragments, or incomplete sentences. Subordinate clauses always begin with a subordinating conjunction. Remember, a conjunction is a connecting word, so a subordinating conjunction is a word that connects a subordinate clause to another clause. Some common subordinating conjunctions are 'if,' 'since,' 'because,' and 'although.'

Look again at the definition for subordination: adding subordinating clauses, which use a subordinating conjunction. This sentence shows subordination: 'While running through my neighbor's yard, I was chased by a dog.' The subordinating conjunction is the word 'while,' which begins the whole subordinating clause, 'while running through my neighbor's yard.' The most common error with using subordinating clauses is simply leaving the clause as its own sentence. This would be a fragment and should never happen in your writing. Secondly, look at the punctuation that connects the two clauses. Another common error is forgetting to add in the comma after the subordinating clause.

Look at these other examples of sentences using subordination. Try to identify the subordinating conjunction. Also, note the use of the comma to connect the clauses.

  • 'If Katie gets an A on her final, she will have a B in the class.' (subordinating conjunction is 'if')
  • 'Since there is no chance of rain tomorrow, we will have a picnic in class.' (subordinating conjunction is 'since')
  • 'Although we never discussed it, the essay will be due next week.' (subordinating conjunction is 'although')


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