What are the differences between independent and dependent clauses?

A clause refers to a group of words that always comprise a subject and a predicate. All sentences have clauses. Some clauses constitute a complete idea while some clauses do not contain a complete idea. On the basis of this, clauses can be classified as dependent clauses and independent clauses. One of the main features that differentiate between dependent and independent clauses is that a complete thought is not present in a dependent clause and a complete thought is present in a dependent clause. 

Differences between Independent and Dependent Clauses

Dependent Clause Independent Clause
1. It is a group of words that have a subject and predicate but does not have a complete thoughtIt is a group of words that have a subject and a predicate and can express a complete idea or thought 
2. It cannot stand alone due to its inability to express a complete idea It has the ability to stand alone due to its quality of expressing a complete thought and is not dependent  
3. It depends on an independent clause to express a complete idea and acts as a supporting part of a sentence Every sentence contains at least one or more independent clauses 
4. It is usually followed by a subordinating conjunction A coordinating conjunction or a semicolon is often used to separate a sentence that contains two independent clauses
5. Adjectives, nouns, and adverbs can often act as dependent clauses An independent clause can express a complete thought on its own 

Examples of Dependent Clauses:

1. Although he liked novels…

2. The old man who lives by the ocean…

3. Whoever did this…

Examples of Independent Clauses:

1. He wants to go to Spain because his grandparents live in Madrid.

2. She made an apple pie; everybody loved it.

3. Even if you don’t understand the question, you should write a long answer.

Purdue OWL states,

“an independent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought.”

He further adds,

“A dependent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought.”