We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Difference Between an Independent Clause and an Introductory Clause?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Understanding the difference between an independent clause and an introductory clause can help prevent punctuation errors and sentence fragments. The main difference is that the introductory clause will usually be preceded by an introductory word. Some examples of these words include before, after, though, during, when, and while. These words serve as a way of making a sentence richer in detail or adding time elements to a sentence.

Consider the following example of an introductory clause:
While Henry was doing the dishes, Janice was vacuuming the floor.
This sentence gives some details about time. We understand from it that Henry and Janice’s actions were being undertaken simultaneously.

You can also use an introductory clause to indicate contrasting ideas, as in this example:
While some experts believe that we can continue to use natural gas to solve our energy problems, others believe we cannot drill our way into a solution.
Here, the sentence presents two different viewpoints that more fully explain the material at hand.

The main mistake in distinguishing independent clauses from introductory clauses occurs when an independent clause is misdefined as something that can stand alone in a sentence. In both examples above, each introductory clause has a noun and a verb, which would make it seem like a complete sentence. It’s important to understand that the main difference between these clauses is that introductory or qualifying word that precedes the clause. You can use part of the introductory cause, “Henry was doing the dishes,” to make a complete sentence. Yet as soon as you add the “while,” to the beginning of either clause, it is not longer independent and will create a sentence fragment if you used alone.

An independent clause can be used entirely alone and depends on nothing else. “Janice was vacuuming the floor,” and “others believe we cannot drill our way into a solution,” can be lifted entirely and used as sentences. If these clauses began with before, while, when, after, though, or if, they would no longer make complete sentences.

One thing that you can do is to omit the introductory word. Our first example could become “Henry was doing the dishes and Janice was vacuuming the floor," which doesn’t change meaning dramatically. You can also separate these two independent clauses now that you’ve removed the introductory word and make them two sentences or two clauses separated by a semi-colon.

When you’re editing your work, look for those opening words that suggest dependence. You can omit them, but when you don’t, be sure a comma follows the introductory clause. Don’t forget to use an independent clause after the comma so that your sentence is complete.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor,...
Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.