Glossary: main clause


A sentence contains at least one clause which is not a subordinate clause; such a clause is a main clause. A main clause may contain any number of subordinate clauses.

  • It was raining but the sun was shining. [two main clauses]
  • The man who wrote it told me that it was true. [one main clause containing two subordinate clauses.]
  • She said, “It rained all day.” [one main clause containing another.]

A main clause is a clause which is not subordinate to any other clause and can stand alone as a sentence, e.g. I saw them last night. It differs from a subordinate clause, which functions as part of a larger clause.


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