TOEFL Clauses in Speaking and Writing

Understanding TOEFL clauses can help you gain better control over your speaking and writing proficiency. That way you can score higher in the speaking and writing sections of the TOEFL exam.

TOEFL clauses

What are TOEFL clauses?

TOEFL clauses are a group of words containing a subject and a verb.

  • A.  Alaa finished her writing assignment last week.
  • B. Since I finished my homework assignments….

Example A contains a subject and verb and is a complete sentence. However, in example B,  a subordinating conjunction + a subject + a verb begins the group of words. Therefore, this example does not represent a complete sentence.

How are TOEFL clauses different from phrases?

Clauses contain subjects and verbs, but phrases are a group of related words within a smaller part of independent clauses. As a result, phrases do not contain subjects and verbs.

Clauses Phrases
A. Hardly ever does Tomas cook his own food. D. his own food
B. who is majoring in biology E. in biology
C. Hopefully, the TOEFL Home Edition will not be administered much longer. F. will not be administered much longer

Example A, B, and C exemplify an independent clause, a dependent clause, and another independent clause.  In addition, a noun phrase, a prepositional phrase, and a verb phrase are expressed in examples D, E, and F.

What types of clauses are there?

Dependent and independent are two types of clauses.

1. Dependent clauses represent support information and must be attached to independent clauses.

  • Dependent clause at the beginning of the sentence: Although most students turned in their research papers on time, six students did not show up for class to submit their assignments.
  • Dependent clause in the middle of a sentence: Cade Riley, who is in the sixth grade, is the top student in his class.
  • Dependent clause at the end of a sentence: The professor decided to end the class early because many students had questions about the midterm exam.

2. Independent clauses represent main ideas and thus comprise the main part of sentences.

  • Independent clause at the beginning of the sentence: A new flying car prototype is being built so that passengers will be able to travel above the log-jammed freeways of Los Angeles.
  • Independent clause in the middle of a sentence: Because my friend is majoring in Geology, he goes on trips to rock quarries because he needs to learn how to classify all types of rocks found on Earth’s surface.
  • Independent clause at the end of a sentence:  Inasmuch as the students have many questions about cell division, the biology professor will postpone his exam.

What is a sentence fragment?

A fragment can be defined as a sentence which does not have an independent clause:

  • A sentence with only a dependent clause:  *Although my friend likes to swim.*
  • A sentence with just prepostional phrases: *At the bank next to the counter.*

What are three types of dependent clauses?

Dependent clauses must attach to independent clauses to form complex sentences. There are three types of dependent clauses:

  • Noun clause: (The fact) That three students missed class is unfortunate.
  • Adjective clause:  Xingyue, who is taking Michael’s Academic Writing I class, turned in his assignment before the due date.
  • Adverb clauseAlthough Alilyah has not finished her research paper yet, she plans on submitting it on Monday.

Important points to remember about dependent clauses.

  • They represent support ideas.
  • Using them helps you to create complex sentences which show syntactic variety and advanced writing proficiency.
  • Using dependent clauses, if used correctly, will help you to score higher on the speaking and writing sections of the TOEFL iBT.

TOEFL Clauses Quiz: Phrase or Sentence?

Read each sentence. Identify it as a phrase or sentence. Then click on “Answer”

1. The man working at the bank yesterday

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


2. Completed the research paper two weeks before the deadline

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


3. Dan turned in his project on Thursday of last week

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


4. Go

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


5. The man swimming in the ocean with the blule swimcap

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


6. On the desk next to the lamp is my handgun

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


7. Halfway into the race of the marathon

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


8. The professor delivered a facisnating lecture about the possibilties of life elsewhwere in the universe

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


9.  To become a pharmacist in the United States of America with a license to practice

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


10. A lawyer with more than 27 years of experience with immigration law

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


11. A man of his word, my father repaid every loan that he was given.

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


12. Located next to the San Gabriel Mountains lies the beautiful city of Rancho Cucamonga

A. Phrase

B. Sentence

13. Driving on the freeway with both windows open, the bright sun shining columns of light onto the dashboard

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


14. Waiting outside the professor’s office for more than three hours, the student was finally able to discuss with her professor the grim reality that she had cheated on the midterm exam

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


15. Leave

A. Phrase

B. Sentence

16. Without anyone else around in the hallway, a long corridor with a yellow stripe  in the center

A. Phrase

B. Sentence

17. The principal income of his family was revenue from a job that Frank had working as a computer programmer.

A. Phrase

B. Sentence

18.  The sound of the whispering trees with a stiff breeze blowing through them, the hoots of an owl, and the yelps of several coyotes running in the hallow

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


19. Why are the students still hanging around in the Zoom room?

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


20. Several hobbies: running, swimming, reading non-fiction books by the pool, and watching news programs with my family

A. Phrase

B. Sentence


TOEFL Clauses Quiz: Sentence or Fragment?

Read each of the following sentences, all of which contain TOEFL clauses. Then determine whether the groups of words are sentences or fragments

1.  Because most students are studying online for Fall semester and because they are not required to attend classes in person at the university

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


2. Your not coming to my house during the Coronvirus epidemic made me more depressed than I have ever been.

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


3. In asmuchas the lab materials are not available online

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


4. Most cars on the freeway are compact cars so they produce far fewer emissions compared to the cars of yesteryear

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


5. About the time my friend arrived at the concert with his friends

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


6. That most students completed their research projects ahead of the due date is a testament of how well-taught the chemistry class was

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


7.  At the end of a very long, narrow passageway was a small suitcase containing more than one million dollars in cash

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


8. Seeing the soldier in uniform, tears running down her face, and impressing on everyone else that he was indeed her long, lost love of more than 20 years

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


9.  With cascading smoke plumes rising high above the mountain range, the Oak Glen fire destroyed everything in its path, and it eventually burned more than 55, 000 acres of pristine forestland.

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


10. A man of his word, one who would not break a promise with anyone, the kind of dependible person that a company manager would want to hire

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


11. Running several miles a day builds the cardiovascular system of the body

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


12. Dogs purchased from owners tend to be hyper and mal-adjusted

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


13. August 2020 in California was the hottest month on record in more than 100 years.

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


14. Death Valley, California posted temperatures of 121 Degrees F three consecutive days in a row in August 2020.

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


15. Slowing driving down the secluded street, making sure that there wasn’t anyone in view

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


16. When the Los Angeles Rams played the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018, many analysts say that it was the most competive and entertaining game in the history of the National Football League

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


17. Although most people do not shop in malls when they can order speciality items on Amazon, which is why retail stores are losing so much money

A.  Sentence

B. Fragment


18. Dr. Pace can help you lose the weight and keep it off for the rest of your life

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


19. Studying vocabulary in context most effectively helps students improve their reading, speaking, writing, and listening proficiency

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


20. No one at the bank which was being closed due to runaway interest rates

A. Sentence

B. Fragment


TOEFL Clauses Quiz: Which answer correctly completes the sentence?

1. ______________ the rain, the soccer field was much more difficult to run on.

A. Because

B. Because of

C. Since

D. Therefore


2. Most students had completed the exam___________________of more than 150 multiple-choice questions.

A. however, it consisted

B. so it consisted

C. even though it consisted

D. but it consisting


3. Several fires____________in Southern California are forcing evacuations of 1000’s of residents.

A. which burning

B. are burning

C. which are burned

D. burning


4. _______________, the professor added ten extra credit points to the chemistry exam.

A. A man of his word

B. He is a man of his word

C. Who is a man of his word

D. A man of his word he


5. Elite athletes have a firm grasp of_______________to win a competition.

A. what to take

B. that it takes

C. taking

D. what it takes


6. Smoky skies____________from several mega-wildfires have made air quaility unhealthy.

A. resulting

B. results

C. which resulting

D. are resulting


7. Being able to score with one one minute left before the half indicates_________________________.

A. how talented is Tom Brady

B. how talented Tom Brady is

C. how talents does Tom Brady have

D. how is talented Tom Brady


8. A student___________________30 pts on the speaking section of the TOEFL exam is in the top 1% of all test-takers.

A. scored

B. who scoring

C. who scores

D. which scores


9. Wearing a mask and practicing social distancing_________________the spread of the Coronavirus.

A. minimize

B. which minimize

C. minimizing

D. are minimized


10. Running 8-10 kilometers a day__________the cardiovascular system of the human body.

A. that builds

B. builds

C. the building of

D. is built


11. During the summer, lawn grass______________several minutes every day, especially in hot dry climates.

A. should water

B. which should be watered

C. should be watered

D. can water


12. Three of the students were sharing answers using an app called Group Chat, ___________the professor had to take disciplinary action.

A. that is why

B. therefore

C. as a result

D. which is why


13.China, _______________a poplulation of more than 1.4 billion people, has just finished assembling the largest standing Navy in the world.

A. that has

B. has

C. which is having

D. which has


14.Generally speaking, _________________cannot get in more than two interval workouts in the same week.

A. most of long distance runners

B. most long distance runners

C. much long distance runners

D. who are most long distance runners


15. Eating lots meat, consuming_____________________of sodium, and drinking sodas every day will lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and a plethora of other debilitainig diseases.

A. foods containing large amounts

B. foods contain large amounts

C. foods are containing large amounts

D. foods containing large numbers


16. Modern homes typically display open floor plans, and developers intall tile or laminate flooring_____________is considered out of date.

A. due to carpet

B. carpet

C. because of carpet

D. since carpet


17.  Since I am teaching online all day every day______________, I ride my bike 10 minutes during each break that I have.

A. sit in a chair

B. sitting in a chair

C. which sits in a chair

D. I sit in a chair


18. Many drivers______________loads of money on their automobile insurance rates because they are not driving very much at all right now.

A. who are saving

B. saving

C. are saving

D. are save


19. _______________the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona, Tom kneeled and wept at the profound beauty.

A. Upon seeing

B. He saw

C. When he seeing

D. Seeing on


20. Su Jen, _________________ an account at a big firm, studied diligently to complete her master’s degree.

A. who desiring to be

B. desired to be

C. desiring to be

D. was desired to be



TOEFL Clauses Quiz: Which word needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

Which bolded word(s) needs to be rewritten in order for the sentence to be correct?

1.  News which Supreme Court justice died has set off a political firestorm between the democrats and the republicans.


2. In the horizon as the sun set for the day, plumes of smoke could see.


3. I mowed and trimmed my yard, a task took more than two hours.


4. Flanking by invading armies from the north and the south, General E. Lee had no choice but to surrender.

5.  Susan Smith,  who a veteran teacher for the Moreno Valley School District, retired after more than 37 years of exemplary service.


6. Most illicit love affairs end badly for everyone involved, include the children of both families.


7. During my friend visited my family and me, he explained to us a proven investing strategy to help us create a new stream of revenue.


8.  The two students, John and me, were allowed to retake the physics exam since our computers has inadvertently shut down during the initial investigation.


9. One of the most talent singers of the 70’s and 80’s, Elton join said that his greatest accomplishment was raising his two kids with his husband.


10. A clear sign of climate change, according to many meteorologists, the searing temperatures were in August in Southern California set all-time records such as a temperature of 49 degrees Celcius in Woodland Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles.


11. “Somebody to Love,” sang by Queen lead singer Freddy Mercury, was a popular tune during the 1970’s


12. A question of whether Earth can sustaining a population of more than 50 billion people is being debated among environmentalists, scientists, and social geographers.


13.  When my legs get tire from running everyday, I use my bike as an alternate form of exercise.


14. Many years ago, Michael took his Siberian huskies, the two favorite dogs that he has ever owned, to a doggie dash in Palm Springs.


15.  Children should always have access to comprehensive healthcare regardless of whether or not their parents cannot afford the care.


16. Watching the sky change from sunlight to darkness gives me a deep appreciative for nature.


17. Children who play video games can become addicted to the extent that they will stop do their homework and will become hostile whenever someone asks them to stop gaming.


18. By the time it got dark, the family had completed the yardwork: mowing grass, pull weeds, and trimming the hedges.


19.  What better present than to have your best friend that you have not saw in more than 25 years visit you.


20. Upon my first visit to Death Valley National Park, I was astonish at the silence that was so profound it was deafening.


Now that you have gained more proficiency in TOEFL clauses, consider some of the below services in your ongoing TOEFL journey:


TOEFL Speaking and Writing Feedback Service

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3 thoughts on “TOEFL Clauses in Speaking and Writing”

  1. Whom refers to people. Many people overuse whom to sound more academic. The rule is to use who when you refer to the subject of a clause, and to use whom when referring to the object of a clause.

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