Main clause (grammar)

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Main clause is the opposite of subordinate clause in grammar . Depending on the grammatical tradition, the definition of the main clause can differ slightly: In some cases, each part of a larger sentence structure that is opposite to the subordinate clauses, i.e. the non-subordinate part of a sentence structure, is called. In other systems, such parts are only considered a main clause if they themselves constitute a complete clause. In some sources, every independent, non-subordinate sentence is also referred to as a main sentence, i.e. also free-standing simple sentences that do not form a sentence structure.

The relationship between a main clause and the rest of the clauses can be of different types, which are detailed below.

Main clause with a lined up subordinate clause

A main clause can be that part of a compound structure that could be used on its own, but is accompanied by a connected subordinate clause; the subordinate clause can be marked as a subordinate clause by e.g. B. is introduced by a conjunction . The main clause is typically recognizable in German by the verb-second position :

Example: "The fire brigade arrived quickly so that the fire could be extinguished without any effort."

Here is the part The fire department quickly met the main clause with the second position of the verb. The attached subordinate clause with so only follows the main clause, but is not integrated into the interior of the main clause, in contrast to the integrated subordinate clauses, which are shown below. (For more information on this difference, see also under adverbial clauses # position in the sentence and subordinate clause # constituent clauses and further subordinate clauses ).

Secondary order of two main clauses

If two independent clauses are connected with a co-ordinating conjunction - i.e. above all: and, but, because - they form two sub-clauses of equal rank, no subordination. Therefore both parts are called main clauses in such a connection.

Example: "The children were doing handicrafts (,) and the grandfather read the newspaper."

Main clause, which contains a clause or attribute clause

If a phrase of a sentence in the form of a coset, the part is designated as the main set traditionally, the left when subtracting the subordinate clause. With adverbial clauses (first example below, causal clause), such an omission of the subordinate clause is unproblematic, as is the case with attribute clauses, such as the relative clause in the second example (subordinate clauses in italics):

Example 1: “We had to wait a long time for spring because the winter was unusually harsh. "
Example 2: "The weather we had this winter was unusual."

A difficulty arises, however, when a subordinate clause is the subject or object of the parent clause. In this case, the rest is not a complete sentence without the subordinate clause:

Example 3: “Nobody understood what was meant by this claim. "

The sentence introduced by what is the object of the verb to understand . In this case, the traditional classification would mean that the "main clause" is not a sentence, but only that part of the sentence structure that is not embedded. In IDS grammar, a distinction is made between main clause and main clause fragment for such cases : The part Nobody understood is then a main clause fragment.


Web links

Wiktionary: main clause  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hadumod Bußmann : Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd, revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 , p. 272.
  2. ^ Theodor Lewandowski: Linguistic Dictionary . Volume 3: S - Z. 4th, revised edition. Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg 1985, ISBN 3-494-02050-7 ( UTB 300).
  3. z. B. Duden. The grammar. 8th edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim 2009. p. 1020, section 1637
  4. Dudengrammatik 2009, p. 1019, from where the example sentence comes from.
  5. grammis 2.0, the grammatical information system of the institute for german language (ids)