Types of Subordinate Clause

Subordinate Clause is the clause which doesn’t give complete meaning. It always needs Main Clause to complete its meaning. That’s why it is never used alone. There are some types of Subordinate Clause.

  1. Noun Clause
  2. Adjective Clause
  3. Adverb Clause

Noun Clause
Noun clause is that dependent clause which functions as noun in a sentence.
Examples: Whatever is the problem I shall go for it.

In above example whatever is the problem works as a noun and also the Subject that is why it is called a Noun Clause. Another thing is that the noun Problem is the main word in that clause hence head of the clause after which it is named. Noun Clause starts with that, what, whatever, who, whom, whoever, whomever.

Other examples:

  1. Whatever the case may be we shall tackle it properly.
  2. What you did made us worried.
  3. Whoever is there is not may concern.

Adjective Clause
All those Dependent Clauses that act as an Adjective are called Adjective Clauses. Since adjective stands for noun or pronoun so is this clause. It also stands for noun or pronoun.

Example: He carries the box which looks so large.

In this example which looks so large is the adjective clause because it stands for the box which is noun.

Other examples

  1. I saw the event that has startled me.
  2. An apple that is red is sweet.
  3. The book which is lengthy is good to be read.

In above examples Adjective Clauses are indicated as bold. Concentrate on these examples. You will see that they really act like an adjective because they stand for nouns. In first example event is the noun similarly apple and book in second and third example and the clause in bold stands for them, means that indicates the quality of nouns, and same is the case if adjectives. Adjective Clause starts with that, who, whom, whose, which, or whose. They are relative pronouns hence Adjective Clause is also called a Relative Clause.

Adjective Clauses can further be divided into Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses.

Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses
Restrictive are those clauses that restrict the number of nouns and in Nonrestrictive Clauses this number is not restricted.


  1. An apple which is red is sweet. (It means not any particular apple there can be lot many red apples. So this example is of Nonrestrictive Clause.
  2. The boy who had stolen the book is finally identified. (In this case the boy is one particular boy, hence the example if of Restrictive Clause.)

That clearly means that whenever noun is not particularized it is Nonrestrictive Clause and whenever it is particularized it is called Restrictive Clause.

Adverb Clause
Adverb Clause is the dependent clause that acts like an adverb. Remember as adverb highlights the quality of verb similarly this clause highlights the quality of verb, hence called Adverb Clause. The Adverb Clause highlights the verbal action, manner, time, frequency, condition and intensity etc.

The conjunctions used for the Adverb Clause are as follows.

Time: whenever, before, when, until, since, after, while, as, by the time, as soon as
Cause and effect: since, because, as long as, now that, so, so that, 
Contrast: although, even, whereas, while, though
Condition: if, whether or not, unless, only if, in case, even if, providing / provided that.


  1. Since I couldn’t come in the class I missed many things.
  2. Although he tried his best but he couldn’t do this.
  3. Unless you study hard you can’t get through the exams.