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Identifying Independent vs. Dependent Clauses Copy

The first, and most important, part of grammar to understand for the ACT is the difference between dependent and independent clauses. If you master identifying these two different clause types and understanding how to join them, you’ll be able to answer almost 80% of ACT grammar questions. At its most simple, an independent clause is a complete sentence and a dependent clause is not a complete sentence. To keep things easy we will be coloring all our dependent clauses BLUE and all our independent clauses GREEN.

Independent Clause (I.C.) – complete sentence

Dependent Clause (D.C.) – not a complete sentence

To keep things simple, we are going to abbreviate independent clauses as “I.C.” and dependent clauses as “D.C.” One easy way to differentiate independent clauses and dependent clauses is to ask yourself “if I walk into a room and say this clause would it leave people wanting to know more”? Let’s look at a few examples.

I.C. vs. D.C. Examples:

“When I ran” – Dependent

“I ran” – Independent

“Although I’ve had an Instagram account for five years” – dependent

“I really like cold brew coffee” – independent

If you walked into a room of friends and simply said “When I ran…” your friends would want to know what happened! By contrast, if you walked into a room and said “I ran”, it wouldn’t leave them needing more information. The same is true for “Although, I have had an Instagram account for five years…” This statement leaves our imaginary room of people wanting to know more. On the flip side, “I really like cold brew coffee” will not leave anyone wondering what else you wanted to say.