1

Consider these four examples:

(1) I come bearing soup, and Kate is sick.

(2) I come bearing soup, for Kate is sick.

(3) I come bearing soup because Kate is sick.

(4) Kate is sick, so I come bearing soup.

There are two clauses in each example. How would you label which clauses are dependent and independent?


Here are some competing ways to consider this each of which makes some sense to me, but they do not agree with each other!

(1) FANBOYS:

"And", "for", and "so", are coordinating conjunctions so the answers are...

  1. indep - indep
  2. indep - indep
  3. indep - dep
  4. indep - indep

(2) For/So act as subordinating conjunctions

"And" is strictly coordinating, but "for" and "so" in these cases are used to add extra context to the original statement. Therefore, those clauses are subordinate.

  1. indep - indep
  2. indep - dep
  3. indep - dep
  4. indep - dep

(3) "Kate is sick" explains the context for "I come bearing soup"

"[because] Kate is sick", "[, for] Kate is sick", and "Kate is sick[, so]" all explain why "I come bearing soup". For this reason "I come bearing soup" is dependent in examples 2-4. "Kate is sick" is independent because she is sick regardless of whether or not "I come bearing soup".

  1. indep - indep
  2. dep - indep
  3. dep - indep
  4. indep- dep

(4) Flip #3

"[because] Kate is sick", "[, for] Kate is sick", and "Kate is sick[, so]" all explain why "I come bearing soup". Because "Kate is sick" is the thing that adds extra context, it is subordinate to "I come bearing soup".

  1. indep - indep
  2. indep - dep
  3. indep - dep
  4. dep - indep

Without considering what you're actually trying to say - that is that one statement is providing extra context for the other - it is tempting to pick either (1)st or the (2)nd option basing it primarily on sentence structure or hard and fast grammar rules, but options (3) or (4) have me thinking that identifying clauses as independent or dependent/subordinate should be based on some deeper meaning tightly related with what we're actually trying to say.

Moving from examples 2 and 3 to example 4 seems to present a contradiction - the content communicated is the same but the structure is reversed.

I think this question is different that other similar questions because of the addition of the 4th example.

Similar questions:

Conjunction Puzzle: Is this clause dependent or independent?

Why does "complex sentence" vs "compound sentence" matter?

  • Even without the comma, “I come bearing soup, and Kate is sick” have no more to do with each other than “I come bearing soup and it is raining” or “I am wearing shoes and Kate is sick.” The comma makes them less, not more dependant. “I come bearing soup, for Kate is sick” means exactly the same as “I come bearing soup because Kate is sick.” In both cases, the bearing of the soup is dependant on the sickness of the person. “Kate is sick, so I come bearing soup” changes the word order, not the meaning. Still, the bearing of the soup is dependant on the sickness of the person. – Robbie Goodwin Nov 14 '16 at 23:39

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