Dependent Clauses

A dependent clause is a clause that is unable to stand meaningfully by itself.

They are marked by having a non-optional auxiliary at the end.

Subordinate Clauses

A subordinate clause is one introduced by a subordinating conjunction in the matrix clause. A comma is used to separate a subordinate from its matrix. The conjunction is placed on the side of the main clause that is closest to the subordinate. The clauses can be put in either order.

Here the subordinate clauses are hightlighted. The cause is subordinate to the effect.

Location Adverbial Clauses

The word ma m where is often used as a prefix for adpositions used as clausal conjunctions.

Content Clauses

A content clause is one that takes the place of a noun. They begin with the complementiser li L and are separated from the matrix clause by commas. The auxiliary is not optional, and is given a low tone. Quote marks are used around reported speech, replacing the complementiser.

Questions and Requests

Questions and requests are main clauses, but have the same auxiliary movement as dependent clauses, and thus are treated alongside them here.


An interrogative is a question sentence. There are two main types, polar questions and content questions.

Polar questions are one in which the answer is “yes” or “no”. They are spoken with a rising tone on the last word. The auxiliaries are used to answer.

If the focus of the question is on a particular noun, that noun receives a falling tone.

Content questions are ones in which the expected answer is more than just “yes” or “no”. These questions have a rising tone on the main question word itself.


An imperative statement is an order.

Second person imperatives are directed to the listener. In these, the subject is dropped, a future auxiliary in the appropriate aspect is suffixed to the verb, and this verb complex is moved to the end of the sentence. These are spoken with a falling tone on the auxiliary.