FormTraditionally, part of a sentence can only be classed as a subordinate clause if it contains either an identifiable or an ‘understood’ finite verb. In contemporary grammatical analysis, however, subordinate clauses may be classed as: finite (‘I think that nobody is in’); nonfinite (‘He used to be shy, staying on the fringes at parties’); verbless (‘She will help you, if at all possible’). Traditionally, the second category would be classed as a participial phrase and the third as a clause with the verb ‘understood’ (it is). Finite subordinate clauses are usually marked as subordinate either by an initial subordinating conjunction (after in He got angry after I started to beat him at table-tennis) or by an initial wh-word that also functions within the clause (who in Most Iranians are Indo-Europeans who speak Persian, where who is the subject of the subordinate clause). These subordination markers sometimes introduce nonfinite clauses (while in I listened to the music while revising my report), and verbless clauses (if in if necessary, I'll phone you).
FunctionSubordinate clauses fall into four functional classes: nominal, relative, adverbial, comparative. Nominal or noun clauses function to a large extent like noun phrases: they can be subject of the sentence (‘That he was losing his hearing did not worry him unduly’) or direct object (‘He knew that he was losing his hearing’). Relative or adjective/adjectival clauses modify nouns: the that-clause modifies star in ‘She saw a star that she had not seen before.’ Adverbial or adverb clauses function to a large extent like adverbs: the adverb there could replace the where-clause in ‘You should put it back where you found it.’ Comparative clauses are used in comparison and are commonly introduced by than or as: ‘The weather is better than it was yesterday’; ‘The weather is just as nice as it was yesterday.’
All such clauses occur in complex sentences. Subordination contrasts with COORDINATION, in which the units, commonly the clauses of a compound sentence, have equal status: the clauses joined by but in We wanted to visit the cathedral first, but the children wanted to see the castle straight away. Sentences in which both subordinate and coordinate clauses occur are compound-complex sentences: with before and but in We wanted to visit the cathedral before we did anything else, but the children wanted to see the castle straight away.
To put in an inferior class or order; to make subject to, or subservient. A legal status that refers to the establishment of priority between various existing liens or encumbrances on the same parcel of property.
A subordination agreement is a contract whereby a creditor agrees that the claims of specified senior creditors must be paid in full before any payment on a subordinate debt can be paid to the subordinate creditor.
A subordination clause in a mortgage is a provision that gives a subsequent mortgage priority over one that has been executed at an earlier date.