What Is a Coordinate Clause in Grammar?

coordinate clauses
Coordinate clauses stand side by side and are equal in grammatical rank. (Alma Haser/Getty Images)

In English grammar, a coordinate clause is a clause (i.e., a word group containing a subject and predicate) that is introduced by one of the coordinating conjunctions--most commonly and or but. Contrast with a subordinate clause.

A compound sentence is made up of one or more coordinate clauses joined to the ​main clause. The rhetorical term for a coordinate construction is parataxis.

See Examples and Observations below.

Examples and Observations

  • "It was apple-blossom time, and the days were getting warmer."
  • "I wasn't a fan of most vegetables, but I didn't mind peas."
  • "They ate the dessert, and neither one mentioned the fact that it was slightly burned."
  • Combining Clauses
    "The basic unit in syntax is the clause. Many utterances consist of a single clause, but there are also rules for combining clauses into larger units. The simplest way is by using a coordinate conjunction, and, but, so and or. These may seem rather insignificant items but they represent a vast step forward from anything we can imagine in even the most sophisticated form of animal communication, and they are probably more complex than many people realize."
  • Disconnected Coordinate Clauses in Conversation
    "In English conversation speakers often begin their utterances with and (also with so or but) without linking these connectives to immediately preceding linguistic material, but rather to more distant topics or even to their own as yet unarticulated (and unrecoverable) perspectives. In (29) the topic of the episode in which this utterance occurs concerns one of the participants consistently getting sick when he travels in Mexico. In this example, the speaker's and is making reference to the whole discourse, not to a specific preceding utterance.
    • (29) and you both eat the same things? (D12-4)"

    Sources

    E.B. White, Charlotte's Web. Harper, 1952

    Gene Simmons, Kiss, and Make-Up. Crown, 2001

    Ernest Hemingway, "Christmas in Paris." The Toronto Star Weekly, December 1923

    Ronald Macaulay, The Social Art: Language and Its Uses, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 2006

    Joanne Scheibman, Point of View and Grammar: Structural Patterns of Subjectivity in American English Conversation.

    John Benjamins, 2002