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Subordinate clause: Function

Subordinate clauses are clauses that are dependent on a main clause (or on another subordinate clause). Most subordinate clauses function as the subject, an object, an adverbial or an attribute of the main clause. Sentential relative clauses are the only clauses that do not function as constituents of the main clause.

Subject clause Dass ihr hier seid, freut uns sehr. 
Object clause Ich weiß nicht, ob du Recht hast.
Adverbial clause Wir fahren weg, wenn es hell wird.
Attribute clause Hunde, die bellen, beißen nicht.
Predicative clause Alles bleibt, wie es ist.
Sentential relative clause   Es geht ihr gut, worüber wir uns freuen.
Table of the clause functions


A subordinate clause can be represented by a particular word within the superordinate (main) clause. Such a word is called a placeholder for a subordinate clause. In the following examples, es and dann are placeholders:

Es freut uns sehr, dass ihr hier seid.
Ich weiß
es nicht, ob du Recht hast.
Wir fahren
dann weg, wenn es hell wird.

Placeholders can be obligatory, optional or impossible. More information on the placeholders is given in the descriptions of the individual functions of subordinate clauses (subject clause, object clause, etc.)

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