Classwork Series and Exercises {English Language – SS3}: Sentences and Clauses

English Language SS3 Second Term

Week 1


Grammatical Structure: Revision on Sentences and Clauses

Writing a Summary

Grammatical Structure: Revision on Sentences and Clauses

You have learned something about clauses and how they function in sentences and how to build up sentences using different types of clauses. Here are some basic points:

  • A clause is a group of words containing a verb and its subject (When he met me yesterday is a clause; five hundred naira is a phrase)
  • A clause is a part of a sentence and  a simple sentence is just one clause (He met me yesterday is a simple sentence and it is also a clause)
  • Sentences can be simple or they can be compound or complex or a mixture of both; and if they are not simple they are a mixture of both.

Compounds and Complex Sentences

A compound is said to be compound when it comprises two or more clauses that are of EQUAL importance. Each is called a main clause. They are linked together with one of these conjunctions: and, or, but (sometimes while)

Example: Racheal has catarrh and Moses has a cough

Can I see you or Am I too late?

A sentence is said to be complex when one clause, the main clause is more important than the other or others attached to it, which are therefore ‘subordinate’ or ‘dependent’ clauses. For example:

Although Sani had just a good breakfast, he still felt hungry.

Here two ideas are expressed in two clauses. The more important idea is that Sani felt hungry; so the second clause is the main clause and the first is the subordinate or dependent clause. The first sentence cannot stand on its own but the second can.

A sentence can be a mixture of compound and complex.


Identify the main and subordinate clauses in these complex sentences

  1. She lends money to anyone who asks for help
  2. If corruption is not tackled, this country will go under
  3. However hard he tries, he always gets his calculations wrong
  4. That businessman , who does not keep proper records, will not succeed
  5. That you have lost your savings book doesn’t not surprise me
  6. I know you have done your best for me

Practice 2:

We quite often find one clause completely embedded in another.

For example:

The company he set up last year has collapsed

Here, the subordinate clause ‘he set up last year’ is embedded in the main clause, ‘The company  ….. has collapsed’.

Now identify main and subordinate clauses in the following sentences:

  1. He said that if corruption is not tackled this country will go under
  2. She was sacked because she was behaving as if the company she headed was her private property
  3. The shares you bought last year will go down in value unless there is general economic recovery in the country
  4. I am certain that provided he gives more time to his studies and does not watch so many films he will pass all his subjects at one sitting
  5. The dog that hangs around our house belongs to our neighbours and I think they feed him only when they have some left food

Clauses and Punctuation

Have you noticed something wrong in the above practice questions, they have no internal punctuation. We could improve the first sentence by adding comma like this:

He said that, if corruption is not tackled, this country will go under.

Now do the same for sentences 2 – 5.

Note –

  • A comma is the right punctuation mark to separate one clause from another. Often an embedded clause will have one comma at the beginning and one at the end.
  • Commas should never the less be used sparingly. It is not necessary always to use them to separate clauses, and sometimes it is definitely not correct to use them
  • A semi-colon is stronger than a comma, and is used to divide a sentence into parts that are really separate sentences though related in meaning e.g. Funds are not available; if they were, we would sponsor your project.


Here is a different type of exercise. You will find three simple sentences below, combine them into one sentence in a suitable way and you can make changes or add joiners where necessary.


They could not carry out the contract

Government awarded them a contract

The contract has been revoked

These can be combined into one:

Since they could not carry out the  contract Government awarded them, the contract had been revoked.

Now try these: Some hints are given

  1. He was celebrating his birthday. It had taken place on February 1st. He invited many friends to a party. (Begin with Since… or As….)
  2. You may not like the product. You can take it back to the company. You should not do this too often. (Begin with If…. and introduce do; also use but)
  3. He claimed his last salary had not been paid. The magistrate dismissed the claim. (Begin with Although)
  4. Book piracy must be tackled. It is a scourge to the publishing industry. No good-quality books will be around very soon. (Begin with Unless… or use If…. not; introduce which.)

Common Error

Here is a very common error:

Although, the pirates  spent six months in prison, soon they were doing their work again.

No comma is required after Although; and the same applies if Though is used instead. rewrite the sentence correctly.

Although or Though is a conjunction here, introducing a clause. A comma can only be used after though ( and one is also needed before it) when the meaning is ‘however’, e.g.

The Pirates spent six months in prison. Soon, though, they were doing their dirty work again.

Clause Types

Adjectival (or relative) Clauses

These describe or modify a noun in another clause. They usually begin with who, which, whom, whose or that.

For example:

He has built a house on land that is too marshy

The builder (whom/that) you approached has a good reputation. (What are the three ways of writing this sentence?)

Charles is the friend I chiefly rely on. Or: Charles  is the friend on whom I chiefly rely.

Adverbial clauses

They modify a verb in another clause. There are many different types, including the following.


Many children do not go to school because their fees cannot be paid. (Or:…… since ….. as …..)


After I finish secondary secondary, I will go to university. (Or: When ….., As soon as…..). Other time clauses can be formed with: before, until, while.


He boasts as if he is the Governor of the Central Bank

Concession or Contrast:

Although she spends a lot on bleaching cream, it doesn’t seem to have much effect.


If we can end corruption, Nigeria will become a great country. (Here the writer or speaker is hopeful about ending it.).

If we could end corruption, Nigeria would become a great country. (Here the writer or speaker is not very hopeful about ending it.)

If we had known, we wouldn’t have invited him. (We did invite him. We didn’t know he was a pick pocket)


Come to my office tomorrow  so that I can explain things to you


She was so beautiful that all the men were gazing at her. (Or, of course: He was so handsome that all the women were gazing at him)


He is less upset by her rejection of him I expected.

Noun clauses

Less has been said about these in earlier books. They function like nouns: as the subject, object or complement of a verb, or in ‘apposition’ to another noun. Many noun clauses begin with that.

For example:

Subject clause:

That you don’t like music surprises me


He said that we mus work for sustainable development


The truth is that we depend too much on the government


The idea that we can overcome poverty in just a few years is unrealistic.

Writing a Summary

Follow these four steps

  1. Understand: These four steps are strongly recommended – (a) survey (b) a quick read (c) read the question carefully (d) a careful read of the passage
  2. Choose: Choose those parts of the text relevant to the question. If the book is yours, mark it in pencil; make rough notes – a list of points will do
  3. Rough draft: Write a rough draft of your answer, and compare it with the question. Alter as necessary. Don’t worry if you make several false starts.
  4. Final Version: Write out your corrected answer and check it through for any careless errors.

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