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I am currently learning English for an exam and came across the word

It is the government's responsibility

Is this a dependent clause or an independent clause?

I feel it is dependent because it does not say what the government should take responsibility for. e.g

It is the government's responsibility to maintain law and order

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    The subject is "It", and "is" is the verb (third person present of 'be'). It's an independent clause.
    – turkey
    Dec 26, 2021 at 0:06
  • Hello Thanoss. Please tell us (1) What you think the answer is. (2) Why do you have doubt. -- You could tell us the definition of "dependent clause" and "independent clause" that you remember from your teacher or your text book. You could tell us if you think both answers are possible, or do you think both answers are impossible, using the definition from your teacher or your textbook. This would make your question better. If you don't know a definition, please research: you could start here grammar.yourdictionary.com/grammar-rules-and-tips/…
    – James K
    Dec 26, 2021 at 1:41
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    @turkey (on Christmas!?) Please don't write answers as comments. It bypasses the quality control system, it results in questions with answers being in the "unanswered" question queue. It discourages people from writing proper answers. It discourages questioners from improving their questions. Answers as comments don't improve the quality of the site.
    – James K
    Dec 26, 2021 at 1:54
  • @turkey I still feel it is dependent because it does not say what the government should take responsibility for.
    – Thanoss
    Dec 26, 2021 at 9:33
  • @Thanoss An independent clause is defined as one that is not dependent on any other element in the sentence. Your example clearly meets this definition, notably because it is the only clause in the sentence.
    – BillJ
    Dec 26, 2021 at 10:47

1 Answer 1

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You have misunderstood the definition of "dependent" clause.

An independent clause is a clause that could be a complete sentence. Grammatically, an independent clause doesn't need anything else.

The cat sleeps.

Is an independent clause, even though it doesn't tell you where the cat sleeps, how often it sleeps or the colour of the cat.

If you have a sentence that contains only a single clause, that clause must be independent.

And this is the case here. The sentence contains only one clause. So it is independent.

You don't have to add to this sentence to say what the government is responsible for, but you can do if you want. That doesn't change the independent clause:

It is the government's responsibility to maintain law and order.

Now there are two clauses. An independent clause (centered on the finite verb "is") and a dependent infinitive clause "to maintain law and order".

The infinitive clause is dependent. It could not be a complete sentence. On its own, "to maintain law and order" isn't a sentence. It doesn't have a subject or a finite verb.

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  • Thanks this explains alot.
    – Thanoss
    Dec 26, 2021 at 9:55
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    @Thanoss An independent clause is defined as one that is not dependent on any other element in the sentence. Your example clearly meets this definition, notably because it is the only clause in the sentence.
    – BillJ
    Dec 26, 2021 at 10:46

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