Joining an Independent Clause with a Dependent Clause, and Dangling Participles

Joining an Independent Clause with a Dependent Clause, and Dangling Participles

A Lesson by CK_85

This lesson will be a discussion on utilizing commas for joining a dependent and independent clause, as well as dangling participles.


This is going to be a hairy lesson, as there is a lot to know about about these topics. This topic is the one, if you look at my previous lessons, that I use the most. First, we are going to describe the joining of a dependent clause immediately after an independent clause. For example:

I love baseball because it's fun.

The dependent clause is "because it's fun", and it's dependent because it can't stand on its own without some context before it. A dependent clause will always need a stronger, independent clause to help it along its way. Take this for example:

Because she's beautiful.

This leads the reader to wonder what her beauty has to do with anything. Notice that this still has a subject and predicate, yet it's not an independent clause. This is because of the "because" at the beginning of the sentence. These types of words are called subordinating conjunctions. Other examples of these conjunctions are: when, after, though, before, unless, etc. To join a dependent clause to the end of an independent clause, all you need to do is link the two together without a comma (making sure that they're separated by a subordinating conjunction). For example:

I admire her because she's beautiful.

The independent clause is "I love her". This can stand along. While the phrase, "because she's beautiful" cannot. Utilizing this tool will give more information about the independent clause, without having to add another independent clause (this causes your writing to be less wordy, though just as strong). However, the inadvertent example in the parenthesis suggests otherwise. This is a writer's preference, and can usually be determined if you would naturally take a pause. If you're ever questioning whether to put a comma before a subordinate conjunction, do it.

The next topic of discussion is attaching an independent clause after a dependent clause. You always use a comma to separate the two. It's as simple as that (save for British English where they enjoy eliminating this comma. Though, I highly recommend you use it for sake of clarity). For example:

Because she's beautiful, I admire her.

In prose, this tool can be used too much, and can cause serious grammatical problems. In particular: the dangling participle. A participle in this case refers to a dependent clause that is used to modify the immediate subject. For example:

Armed with grammar, I intended to educate those who aren't used to commas.

The participle, "Armed with grammar" refers to the immediate subject, "I". Many times, it is clear what the subject is. However, when the intended subject and the actual subject don't match, that is referred to as a dangling participle. For example:

While running as fast as possible, the bus didn't bother stopping.

Clearly, the subject of the participle is a person. Though, with no other subject in the sentence besides the bus, the participle inadvertently describes the bus running as fast as possible. This can be cleared up as follows:

While running as fast as possible, he was dismayed when the bus didn't stop for him.

In the above example, the participle clearly describes the intended subject: "he". You can avoid this by combing through your writing and determining what you want to describe with a participle you used, and comparing it to what the participle actually describes (the first and/or only subject after the comma). Now that you're done reading, you should use this tool!

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Added on February 19, 2017
Last Updated on February 19, 2017

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Buffalo, NY

I write stories, unorthodox snippets of prose, as well as hip-hop lyrics.