Sentence Clauses in IELTS

As you will see from the IELTS writing band descriptors, you need to be able to write complex sentences in order to score higher for your grammatical range – and write them correctly so you don’t get marked down on your accuracy!

The building blocks of sentences are ‘clauses‘ though, so the first step is understanding these.

For example, a band 4 makes only “rare use of subordinate clauses” according to the public band descriptors.

This implies you must be making good use of subordinating clauses to get a higher score, so you need to know first what sentence clauses are.

What is a clause in a sentence?

A clause is a group of words with a (s) subject and a (v) verb.

For example:

(s) Computers (v) are important.

= 1 sentence with 1 clause.

We can have two clauses though i.e. two groups of words with a subject and a verb:

Computers are important, but they are dangerous too.

= 1 sentence with 2 clauses.

How about three-sentence clauses?

Computers are important,
but they can be dangerous too, so we must be careful.

= 1 sentence with 3 clauses.

Now let’s add a fourth!

Computers are important,
but they can be dangerous too, so we must be careful when we use them.

= 1 sentence with 4 clauses.

You’ll have noticed then that a sentence is not the same thing as a clause.

A sentence is the group of words that comes between two full-stops and it must be a complete thought that makes sense.

So sentence clauses are what build a sentence, and one sentence can have a number of clauses.

What if there is no subject and verb?

It’s important to know the difference between phrases and clauses.

If there is no subject or verb in part of the sentence, then this may be a phrase.

For example:

(p) In many countries around the world,
flooding is becoming
more common.

A phrase is a group of words without a subject and verb (a phrase on its own obviously cannot be a sentence because every sentence has a subject and a verb!).

Sentence Clauses Practice

1. I’m going out tonight so I must get ready soon.

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2. Global warming is a major problem, but it can be solved if we take action now.1
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3. Obesity is getting worse now in developing countries.

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4. I don’t know when I will be able to stop studying because I have many more exams.

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5. It’s cold outside so I’m going to stay in.

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6. Although cars are essential, they cause a lot of pollution, so governments must take action soon, and individuals also need to play a role.

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7. Why were you so late?

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8. He said that he will come to see me tomorrow.

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9. It is important to be on time, but it is ok to be late when you have an emergency.

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10. I felt unwell when I ate the food, so I’ll probably not eat at the restaurant again, but I think my friend will.

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