What Is a Subordinate Idea in Writing?

Using subordinate ideas can strengthen your writing.
... Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

When writing a sentence, you will have a main idea, and you may also have a subordinate idea, a clause that has less importance than the main idea. Subordinate ideas, sometimes called a subordinate clause or a dependent clause, can help you prove or establish the importance of the main idea in your sentence. Knowing how to identify a subordinate idea will help you strengthen your writing skills.

1 Subordinate Conjunctions

Certain words and phrases can help you identify the subordinate idea in a sentence. Sometimes referred to as a coordinating conjunction, subordinate conjunction or subordinate transition, identifiers may include words such as “although,” “if,” “since,” “until,” “because” and “while.” You may also identify a subordinate idea with phrases like “even though,” “rather than,” “provided that” and “insomuch as.”

Vocabulary Builder

2 Sample Sentence

In the following sentence, identify the subordinate idea: “The girl tried the cake, which had too much icing.” In this example, “The girl tried the cake” forms the main idea. The phrase “which had too much icing” makes the subordinate idea. This gives additional information to the reader, offering details about the main idea, but it does not make up the main idea itself.

Kate Beck started writing for online publications in 2005. She worked as a certified ophthalmic technician for 10 years before returning to school to earn a Masters of Fine Arts degree in writing. Beck is currently putting the finishing touches on a novel.