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French Clause

clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb, usually along with other components. A clause may form part of a sentence or it may be a complete sentence on its own.

For example:

  • Il buvait une pinte de bière. - He was drinking a pint of beer.
    Single clause that is also a complete sentence.
  • Elle avait un travail génial et elle était très contente. - She had a great job and she was very happy.
    Two clauses that, together, make a sentence

Every sentence contains at least one main clause (proposition principale). A main clause may form part of a complex sentence, or it may make sense on its own.

Complex sentences have a main clause plus at least one other type of clause and, therefore, at least two conjugated verbs.

Types of clauses:

  • subordinate clause (proposition subordonnée) depends on the main clause for its meaning. Together, they make up a complex sentence:
    • Après que nous avions mangé (subordinate), nous sommes allés au théatre (main). - After we'd eaten, we went to the theatre.
  • conditional clause (proposition conditionnelle) is a type of subordinate clause that is introduced by si (if):
    • Je vais être mouillé (main) s'il pleut (conditional). - I'll get wet if it rains.
  • relative clause (proposition relative) is a type of subordinate clause that is introduced by a relative pronoun: que, qui, dont or  (which, that, who, whom, whose, when or where): 
    • Je savais (main) qu'il te dirait la vérité (relative). - I knew that he would tell you the truth.
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