© 2017 Steve Campsall

Let's look a little more closely at clauses. These are important grammatical structures as they can affect style significantly, especially by adding to the complexity or formality of a text.


A feature of good style is the clarity of the sentences in a text. Such writing will also contain a variety of clause and sentence types - however, the overuse of subordinate clauses can cause a sentence to lose its main focus:

The car that had been stolen a few days before and which was not working very well was one of those that was often stolen because they were liked by the kind of young thieves who were interested in such cars who should be caught and locked up.

Phew!

Subordinate clauses are, however, an important stylistic choice. Relative clauses especially can add very useful extra information to a sentence and create subtlety, clarity and sophistication:

According to a report in the British Medical Journal last week British teenagers smoke more cigarettes, take more drugs, drink more alcohol, have more babies, terminate more pregnancies and suffer more venereal disease than those of any other European country. The thread that connects these unpleasant facts is the abysmally low educational and cultural level of a large section of the British population. It is not entirely a coincidence that we also have the highest illiteracy rate in Europe. We are reaping what we have sown.

Daily Telegraph

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