What is a clause? A clause is a group of words which contains a noun or pronoun (the subject) and a verb. They are also called simple sentences.

For example:

  • The tall, old tree shook ferociously in the wind.  

In this clause, the subject is the ‘tall, old tree’ and the verb is ‘shook’.

There are different components which are used in writing to make up a sentence.  These include:

  • Phrases, sentences and clauses.

Sentences can also be made up of two clauses. For example:

  • Tom loves cats and Sally loves dogs.

This called a compound sentence which is made up of two main clauses that are joined by the connective ‘and’. This sentence could also be broken down into two simple sentences if the connective is removed:

  • Tom loves cats.
  • Sally loves dogs.

These sentences are now made up of just a main clause. The main clause is a type of clause that contains a subject and an object. They can be used on their own or joined by using a connective word.

When do children learn about clauses?

From Year 1 onwards children will be taught how to write sentences connecting two clauses with the connective ‘and’.

By Year 2 they will progress onto learning about subordinate clauses and how to write complex sentences (which contain a main clause and a subordinate clause). They will also practice connecting their sentences with different words such as: ‘but’, ‘when’, ‘because’, or ‘if’.

By Year 6 children will be expected to use a wider variety of connectives to make their sentences more impressive. These connectives might include: ‘although’, ‘therefore’, ‘however’ and ‘meanwhile’.

The KS2 SATs Grammar, punctuation and spelling test may question children on their knowledge of the following terms at the end of Year 6:

  • Connective, clause, subordinate clause, main clause, compound sentence, simple sentence and complex sentence.

How to help children practice using clauses?

Teachers may have the key definitions (such as the ones mentioned above) up on displays in the classroom so that children can familiarise themselves with them as they do their own writing.

Regular practice is very important to help children learn new definitions. It can be helpful to give them a list of sentences and ask them to underline or colour the main clause, clauses and connectives in different colours. For example:

  • Howard liked to sing but Ben liked to play hockey

The two clauses are in red and the connective is in blue.

How does Learning Street help children with clauses?

Learning Street provides fully structured courses which help children to develop their skills and to pass the toughest of exams.

All our courses are fully structured  and we introduce the topic of clauses at the right time, then extend learning, then revise it. Children, as a result, become confident in their use of clauses.

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