What is an independent or a dependent clause?
Independent clauses, also known as restrictive clauses, contain a subject and a verb and can stand alone as a sentence without additional information e.g., the sun is shining. Independent clauses contain the essential information being expressed in the sentence.
Dependent clauses, also known as nonrestrictive clauses, also contain a subject and a verb, but they are incomplete sentences that need an independent clause to make sense e.g., which is a pleasant surprise. A dependent clause provides non-essential information, and if removed, the sentence that contains it would still make sense.
Together, independent and dependent clauses create descriptive sentences e.g., the sun is shining, which is a pleasant surprise. Identifying whether your sentence is an independent clause, a dependent clause, or a combination thereof is important to understanding whether to use commas, semicolons, or colons to punctuate the clauses, as well as choosing between using that or which in the sentence.