Find the Base Clause (1)

It's sometimes easy to lose sight of our goal. So, once again, let's remind ourselves:

Our goal is to be able to quickly and easily identify the clause (or clauses) in any sentence.

As a way of teaching you that skill, I've given you many quizzes in which I've asked you to simplify a sentence and then identify the base clause. I do think it's a useful exercise.

However, occassionally I have students who mistake the purpose of this exercise. They think that it's somehow important to know whether a particular clause is equative, or transitive, or intransitive, or whatever.

No! That's not what's important! Nobody cares whether a clause is equative or intransitive, or whatever!

What people care about—and what you should care about—is whether you truly understand what a clause is, because that's the first and biggest step toward being able to write a wide variety of grammatically correct sentences that are punctuated correctly.

Everything we've done is simply a way of getting to that point.

With this in mind, I think it's time for a different sort of quiz—a quiz that forces you to write out the clause, instead of simply answering a multiple-choice question.

Here is an example, with the answers already filled in:


According to the news report, the criminal stole a red car.


The criminal stole a car.

2. The woman in front of the orchestra is the conductor.

The woman is the conductor.

3. The keys on the desk are mine.

The keys are mine.


Instructions for the Quiz

Find the base clause and write it out in the text box.