The best writers not only know how to identify essential elements of sentences, they also learn to shape their words into catchy, creative clauses. There are various types of clauses: dependent, independent, subordinate, adjective, noun and elliptical. They are found either at the beginning, middle or end of a sentence depending on the way they're being used. Each type of clause contains its own unique properties and can be identified in a few seconds by looking for certain characteristics within the text.

Step 1

Look for a sentence that forms a complete thought and contains a verb and subject. "He ran down the street" is an independent clause. An independent clause must not include dependent marker words like "if," "after," "although," "because" and "when."

Step 2

Read through a sentence in search of words like "as," "because," "until" and similar types of adverbs. "Until the sun went down" is an example of a dependent clause. Note that it does not form a complete thought; instead, it relies on another clause to complete the sentence. Combined with the independent clause from Step 1, it becomes: "He ran down the street until the sun went down."

Step 3

Search for sentences that contain words like "after" or "once." These words help form subordinate, or adverb, clauses. "Once Tommy got home" is an example of a subordinate clause. Subordinate clauses answer questions about the independent clause. For example: "Once Tommy got home, he ran down the street." However, they are a type of dependent clause, so alone, they do not form a complete sentence.

Step 4

Find the part of a sentence that begins with words like "that" or "where." An adjective clause example is, "where Tommy ran." Used in a sentence, it becomes: "This is the street where Tommy ran." The adjective clause modifies the noun or pronoun that proceeded it and also cannot stand alone.

Step 5

Identify the part of the sentence that functions as a noun, and you'll find a noun clause. A noun clause stands in for the noun: "What Tommy did" forms a noun clause. Used in a sentence, it becomes: "What Tommy did shocked his friends."

Step 6

Look for a sentence that clearly contains missing or implied words and events. "Tommy can run faster than his sister" is an example of a sentence containing an elliptical clause. The elliptical clause is "than his sister." The original sentence before using the elliptical clause is: "Tommy can run faster than his sister can run."