Adverb clause and types: examples and rules

In this post, you will learn everything about an adverb phrase in detail. There is a video lesson attached at the end of the post; you can directly scroll down to it and watch it.

What is an adverb clause in English?

Adverb clause definition: An adverb clause, also known as an adverbial clause, is a dependent clause that works as an adverb in a sentence. It modifies the main verb and tells us WHY, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW an action happens. Since it is a dependent clause, it starts with a subordinating conjunction.

Here’s a list of subordinating conjunctions that are used in adverb clauses when they answer the following questions:

HOWas if, provided, like
WHYsince, as, because, so, because of, now that, given that, so that, that
WHENwhen, whenever, after, before, since, until, while, as soon as, by the time, once
WHEREwhere, anywhere, everywhere
Subordinating conjunctions in an adverb clause

Note that an adverb clause is commonly known as an adverbial clause as it is not a regular adverb but functions as an adverb in a sentence.

Adverb clause types
Adverb clause types

Examples:

  • She left the job because she was unhappy with the new management.
    (The adverb clause ‘because she was unhappy with the new management’ answers WHY the action happened: she left the job.)
  • They will meet us where we used to play cricket.
    (The adverb clause ‘where we used to play cricket’ answers WHERE the action will happen.)
  • The kids can watch TV after they finish the homework.
    (The adverb clause ‘after they finish the homework’ answers WHEN the action can happen.)
  • They were kissing in the park as if nobody was there.
    (The adverb clause ‘as if nobody was there’ answers HOW the action was happening: kissing.)
  • We will let him play if he passes the fitness test.
  • (The adverb clause ‘If he passes the fitness test” tells us in what condition the main verb happens.)

Types of adverb clauses

  1. Adverb clause of place
  2. Adverb clause of time
  3. Adverb clause of reason/purpose
  4. Adverb clause of contrast
  5. Adverb clause of condition

Adverb Clause of Place

An adverb clause of place answers the question WHY; it tells us the place of an action.

Conjunctions used: where, anywhere, everywhere

Examples:

  • He will meet us where we used to party back in the days.
  • You can park your car anywhere you want.
  • I see you everywhere I go.
  • It’s my house. You can sleep anywhere you want.
  • My dog koto follows me wherever I go.

Adverb Clause of Time

An adverb clause of time modifies a verb and tells us WHEN it takes place.

Conjunctions used: after, before, until, by the time, as soon as, when, whenever, since

Examples:

  • I will call you after the meeting gets over.
  • Make sure you come back to your seat before the boss arrives here.
  • Everyone started crying as soon as I gave my resignation.
  • She gets mad whenever I call her Poopoo.
  • I haven’t seen my friend Ronny since we had an argument at a party.
  • We will have left by the time you come back home.

Adverb Clause of Reason/Purpose

An adverb clause of reason/purpose modifies a verb and tells us WHY the action happens. It tells us the reason or the purpose of the action.

Conjunctions used: Because, since, as, so, so that, that

Examples:

  • Jon quit the job because he was not happy with his salary.
  • We didn’t celebrate his birthday as one of our friends had a brutal accident.
  • Since it was pouring down rain, we did not move out.
  • He is working day and night so that his family can live happily.
  • She was happy that we came out to support her.

Adverb Clause of Contrast

An adverb clause of contrast modifies a verb by giving contrasting information.

Conjunctions used: Though, although, even though

Examples:

  • Though he had a high fever, he continued working.
  • The beggar gave me the only burger he had although he was hungry.
  • Even though she is famous and beautiful, I’ll not marry her.
  • The company didn’t consider his application though he performed better than all the other candidates for the job.
  • We were thrown out of the hall thought we all had entry passes.

Adverb Clause of Condition

An adverb clause of condition modifies a verb by telling in what condition it happens.

Conjunctions used: If, only if, unless

Examples:

  • If you apologize to her, I will let you work here.
  • They will not return your car unless you pay the loan.
  • My father promised to buy me a bike if I pass the upcoming test.
  • If it rains today, we will go out and dance.

Composition of an adverb clause

We need the following three components, at least, to form an adverb clause:

  1. Subordinating conjunction (from the above list)
  2. Subject (noun/pronoun)
  3. Verb

I’ll call you when I get free.

Subordinating conjunction = when
Subject = I
Verb = get
Compliment = free

If a dependent clause consisting any of the above subordinating conjunctions and a subject-verb combination modifies a verb by telling its place, time, reason, concession, and condition, it is called an adverb or adverbial clause as it works just like an adverb.

How to find an adverb clause in a sentence?

If any part in a sentence (consisting a subordinating conjunction and a subject-verb combination) gives information about the main verb of the sentence, it’s an adverb clause or adverbial clause.

To be more specific, if a clause tells us about the time, place, reason, purpose, condition or concession of the main verb, it’s an adverb clause.

Try finding out the adverb clauses in the following examples, if any:

  • I’ll return his money as soon as I get my salary credited.
  • She will get married when she is ready.
  • If they really love you, they’ll come here to see you.
  • He failed the test though he had prepared well.
  • My mother comes with me wherever I go.

Adverbs clauses:

  • As soon as I get my salary credited (talking about the time when the main verb “return” happens)
  • When she is ready (modifying the main verb by telling us the time when it happens)
  • If they really love you (giving information about the main verb in terms of a condition)
  • Though he had prepared well (modifying the main verb by giving contrasting information about it)
  • Wherever I go (modifying the main verb and telling where the main verb happens)

NOTE: ask “when/where/why/how” to the main verb to find out the adverb clause.

An adverb clause also modifies an adjective

An adverb clause generally modifies a verb, but it can also modify an adjective. Study the following examples:

  • He was sad that he couldn’t come to my birthday party. (modifying the adjective ‘sad’)
  • The teacher was angry that we didn’t perform well in the test. (modifying the adjective ‘angry’)

Adverb clauses and commas

When adverb clauses come in the beginning of a sentence, it is best to use a comma after it. The comma makes it clear where the adverb clause is ending. study the following examples:

  • After the match ends, we will have a party.
  • If he becomes the team leader, everyone will be happy.

But when adverb clauses come at the end of a sentence, there’s no need to use a comma.

  • We will have a party after the match ends.
  • Everyone will be happy if he becomes the team leader.

Important points to note:

1. Adverb clauses start with subordinating conjunctions such as when, after, before, if, as as soon as, though, because…

2. Adverb clauses modify the main verbs by telling us WHEN, WHERE, HOW, & WHY the action happens.

3. Adverb clauses are also called adverbial clauses as they function adverbially.

Adverb clause in English

Leave a Comment