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Independent clauses

An independent clause is one that would work as a sentence by itself, hence the name ‘independent’. So if you cut the clause out of the sentence and put a full stop at the end of it, it forms a complete sentence:

Independent clauses

The first independent clause in this sentence can be made into a sentence by itself:

Jake hit the ball.

The second part of the original sentence is also an independent clause and also forms a sentence on its own:

Jeremy managed to catch it.

These two independent clauses are connected by the coordinating conjunction ‘but’. When you’ve got two independent clauses together in a sentence, you need to have something joining them together. There are a few different ways you can do this:

Put a comma followed by a coordinating conjunction after the first clause. This is known as coordinating the two clauses (for obvious reasons).

Jake hit the ball, but Jeremy managed to catch it.

Split the two independent clauses into two separate sentences, using a period (the full stop symbol ‘.’).

Jake hit the ball. Jeremy managed to catch it.

Put a semicolon after the first clause.

Jake hit the ball; Jeremy managed to catch it.

Sometimes you may not be satisfied with just adding a semicolon - you might also want to chuck in a conjunction followed by a comma after the semicolon:

Jake hit the ball; nevertheless, Jeremy managed to catch it.

Try to avoid doing this, unless it’s really necessary. It makes the sentence a little unwieldy and breaks the flow of the sentence more than is usually necessary.