I came across a sentence in the New Yorker:

But the evidence against talc had grown substantial enough by the time Berg was diagnosed that many U.S. manufacturers, including the makers of crayons, condoms, and surgical gloves, had erred on the side of caution and stopped using it in their products.

In this sentence, I do not find the independent clause (a clause that does not follow any conjunction). As far as I know, every sentence should contain an independent clause, like the clause before comma: I don't know her, but my husband does.

Is the "that" in bold a special usage with "but", in which case the sentence can leave out the independent clause?

  • 1
    The But at the start is a conjunction, but to an earlier sentence. So the first part is the independent clause of this sentence.
    – Henry
    Sep 19, 2022 at 1:50
  • 1
    And you should know that an independent clause is not defined as a clause that does not follow a conjunction.
    – tchrist
    Sep 19, 2022 at 2:04

1 Answer 1


The independent clause is "the evidence had grown substantial enough". The word "But" acts as an introductory linking word, connecting this to previous sentences. It is not a subordinator.

In your other example, there are two independent clauses "I don't know her" and "my husband does". The word but acts as a coordinating conjunction linking two independent clauses.

  • I think it would be better to say that the sequence "the evidence had grown substantial enough" is only part of the independent clause, which I would take to be the whole sentence. I'd say that "but" is a coordinator; it belongs in main clause, which is functioning as at least the second coordinate in a coordinative construction.
    – BillJ
    Sep 19, 2022 at 18:22

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