English Adverb Clauses: English Clauses That Give us More Information about Verbs
As you may know, an adverb modifies or describes a verb, and adjective, or another adverb. A clause is a group of words containing a subject and a verb. Some clauses are called adverb causes because they function as adverbs. This means that they describe, modify, or give us more information about the verb in the sentence. In this posting I talk about types of adverb clauses and how to form them. You will see many example sentences. The download at the end will give you more practice using these clauses.
Here is the free English video lesson I taught on YouTube:
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to see all of our lessons and get the latest videos right away!
What are adverb clauses?
Adverb clauses are dependent clauses. That means that an adverb clause cannot stand along as a sentence. It must be attached to a main, independent clause. Adverb clauses may come at the beginning or end of a sentence. Look at these examples:
While you were sleeping, I washed the dishes.
I washed the dishes while you were sleeping.
The meanings of both sentences are the same. Note that when the adverb clause comes first, it is followed by a comma. When it comes at the end of the sentence, you do not need a comma.
There are 4 types of adverb clauses: time, contrast, cause and effect, and condition. We will look at each type.
Adverb clauses to time
These clauses tell when something is happening. Use the following words to introduce and adverb clause of time: when, while, until, as soon as, before, after, or since.
- When you get home, call me.
- He worked three jobs while he was in college.
- I won’t be ready until I finish the laundry.
- As soon as it snows, we are going skiing.
- She has to finish school before she can look for a job.
- After it rains, everything always smells fresh and clean.
- He has lived in New York since he was 7.
Adverb Clauses of Contrast
Adverb clauses of contrast express the opposite of what you would expect. These words introduce adverb clauses of contrast: although, even though, though, whereas, while
- Although he just lost his job, he is taking a trip to Europe next week.
- Earl Boykins is a professional basketball player even though he is very short.
- She doesn’t speak Japanese though she has lived in Japan for 10 years.
- John prefers coffee whereas Mary prefers tea.
- While my brother studied Spanish, I studied French.
Adverb clauses of cause and effect
Adverb clauses of cause and effect explain why something has happened. Introduce adverb clauses of cause and effect with the following words: because, since, as, so (that).
- I didn’t go to Juan’s party because I’m very shy.
- Since they did not offer the job to me, I found another position.
- I never eat hamburgers as I’m a vegetarian.
- Please let me know when you are arriving so (that) I can meet you at the airport.
Adverb clauses of condition
Conditional adverb clauses talk about what might happen as long as some other condition takes place. These word introduce adverb clauses of condition: if, even if, unless, whether or not.
- If I were rich, I would start a business.
- She will never return to him even if he quits drinking.
- Unless the weather changes, we will not be able to go on our picnic.
- I will be at work tomorrow whether or not it snows.
Reducing adverb clauses
Some, but not all, adverb clauses can be reduced. When this happens, there is no longer both a subject and a verb. Therefore and adverb clause becomes and adverb phrase. You will see two sentences below for each type of adverb clause that can be reduced. The first will be with an adverb clause, and the second with an adverb phrase. The meaning of the sentences will remain the same.
Time–To reduce adverb causes of time, use this formula: time word + ing form of the verb
- Before he applied for his job at the university, he did a lot of research.
- Before applying for his job at the university, he did a lot of research. Note that if the adverb phrase comes at the beginning of the sentence, you will need a comma.
Contrast–To reduce adverb clauses of contrast, use this formula: contrast word + ing form of the verb
- He was always broke though he earned a high salary.
- He was always broke though earning a high salary. Note that when the adverb phrase comes at the end of the sentence, you do not need a comma.
To reduce adverb clauses with be verb, use this formula: contrast word + adjective
Cause and effect–To reduce adverb clauses of cause and effect, use this formula: ing form of the verb + adjective for be verb, subject for all other verbs.
- Because she was late, she drove to work instead of taking the bus.
- Being late, she drove to work instead of taking the bus.
- As Bob had extra work to do, he stayed at the office late.
- Having extra work to do, Bob stayed at the office late.
You now know that adverb clauses modify, describe, or give us more information about the verb in the sentence. They are dependent clauses. There are 4 types of adverb clauses: time, contrast, cause and effect, and condition. The adverb clause may come at the beginning or at the end of the sentence. Adverb clauses are introduced by specific words that will tell you what type of an adverb clause it is. Finally, certain types of adverb clauses (time, contrast, and cause and effect) can be reduced to adverb phrases. The download will give you more practice using and understanding adverb clauses.
Idioms of the day
- more than one way to skin a cat–This means that there is more than one way to solve a problem. My sister always insists that you have to vacuum the living room first and then the bedroom. I don’t think it matters, as long as the house gets clean. There is more than one way to skin a cat.
- to teach an old dog new tricks–This means to replace old habit or skills with new ones. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t learn computer programming. I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.