The relationship between two elements of unequal grammatical status, often linked by a subordinate conjunction.
A subordinate word or phrase tells us more about the meaning of the word it is subordinate to. Subordination can be thought of as an unequal relationship between a subordinate word and a main word. For example:
- an adjective is subordinate to the noun it modifies
- Subjects and Objects are subordinate to their verbs.
- big dogs [big is subordinate to dogs]
- Big dogs need long walks. [big dogs and long walks are subordinate to need]
- We can watch TV when we’ve finished. [when we’ve finished is subordinate to watch]
Subordination is much more common than the equal relationship of coordination.
See also subordinate clause.