The three most common types of dependent clauses in Spanish are:
1. Noun clauses
A noun clause is one which functions as a noun, normally as the direct object or the subject of a verb. It is usually introduced by the conjunction que (that). Let's look at some expamples:
Direct Object Subordinate Clause
Te digo que en Madrid hace mucho frío esta época del año.
I tell you that it is cold in Madrid this time of the year.
Quiero que vengas conmigo al concierto.
I want you to come with me to the concert.
Subject Subordinate Clauses
Es verdad que no he estudiado mucho.
It’s true that I haven’t studied much.
Es mejor que te vayas.
It’s better if you leave.
I like that you study a lot for the exam.
Some clauses above function as nouns. Here is an example of replacing them with a noun:
Te digo hola.
I say hello to you.
I want bread.
Es verdad eso.
That is true. (In English we must place the subject first.)
Es mejor el vino blanco.
White wine is better. (In English we must place the subject first.)
Me gusta el vino blanco.
White wine pleases me. (In English we must place the subject
Using a direct object pronoun in the first two cases:
Te lo digo.
I say it to you.
I want it.
In the last three, they would need subject pronouns:
Es verdad él.
It/he is true.
Es mejor él.
It/he is better. (In English we must place the subject first.)
It/he pleases me. (In English we must place the subject first.)
2. Adjectival clauses
These clauses function as adjectives modifying a noun or pronoun, which is known as the antecedent (antecedente). Adjectival clauses are most frequently introduced by the relative pronouns que (which/that/who) quien/quienes (who), el que, la que, los que, los que (which/that/who), or el/la cual, los/las cuales (which/that/who).
Busco a la secretaria que habla español.
I'm looking for the secretary who speaks Spanish.
No tengo padre, ni madre, ni perrito que me ladre.
I don’t have a father, a mother or a dog that may bark at me.
Busco un apartamento que no sea muy caro.
I’m looking for an apartment that is not very expensive.
Some clauses above function as adjectives. Let's try replacing them with an adjective:
Busco a la secretaria española.
I'm looking for the Spanish secretary.
No tengo padre, ni madre, ni perrito ladrador.
I don’t have a father, a mother or a barking dog.
Busco un apartamento barato.
I’m looking for a cheap apartment.
3. Adverbial clauses
Adverbial clauses function as an adverb of time, place, manner, etc. There are many different adverbial conjunctions that can introduce these clauses: antes de que, cuando, mientras, tan pronto como, aunque...
Trabajo mucho cuando me siento bien.
I work a lot when I feel good.
Trabajaré mucho cuando me sienta bien.
I will work a lot when I feel good.
The clauses above function as adverbs. Let's try replacing them with an adverb:
Trabajo mucho siempre.
I always work a lot.
Trabajaré mucho mañana.
I will work a lot tomorrow.
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