What Are Adverbial Clauses?
Adverbial clauses are dependent clauses that function as adverbs in a sentence. They modify the verb, adjective, or another adverb in a sentence by providing additional information about time, place, manner, condition, purpose, or contrast.
Adverbial Clauses: Characteristics
Let's discuss the four main characteristics of adverbial clauses:
- Adverbial clauses are adjuncts. (We can remove them without affecting grammaticality of the sentence)
- Adverbial clauses are dependent clauses. (They cannot form a meaningful sentence on their own.)
- Adverbial clauses normally start with a subordinating conjunction.
- Adverbial clauses must have a subject and a verb.
Adverbial Clauses: Types
Adverbial clauses modify the main verb of the independent clause by answering one of the following questions or talking about one of these topics:
Take a look at some examples:
We can go
He was standing
When or How Often
We can go outside to play
Adverbial clauses of manner talk about how something is done or happens. They start with subordinating conjunctions of manner like:
He looked at me
She talked to me
Adverbial clauses of reason, purpose, and result talk about why the action of the sentence happens and what the result is. They start with one of the following subordinating conjunctions:
- Reason: because, since, as, given
- Purpose: in order to, so that, in order that, in case
- Results: so...that, such...that
To What Degree
Adverbial clauses of degree talk about to what degree something happens or express comparison. They start with subordinating conjunctions of degree and comparison such as:
Tipping a waiter is more common now
Adverbial clauses of condition talk about the condition stated in the main clause. They start with subordinating conjunctions of condition such as:
They can come with us
Brian will not sleep
Adverbial clauses of concession or opposition talk about contrasts. They start with one of the following subordinating conjunctions:
I cannot accept that,
She must be about 30,
Adverbial Clauses: Structure
Adverbial clauses consist of the following parts:
Adverbial Clauses: Punctuation
When the adverbial clause is at the beginning of a sentence, a comma is used after it. This comma shows where the adverbial clause ends and the main clause starts. Pay attention to the example:
Even though he never went to college, he owns a thriving business.
When the adverbial clause is at the end of a sentence, you need to consider whether the adverbial clause is essential (also called restrictive) or non-essential (also called non-restrictive) to the overall meaning of the sentence.
- When it is essential, do not use a comma.
- When it is non-essential, use a comma.
He said he was happy where he was.
I used to read a lot, though I don't have much time for books now.
Adverbial Clause vs. Adverbial Phrase
An adverb clause must have a subject and a predicate. An adverb phrase, however, does not have a subject and a predicate:
|Adverbial Clause||Adverbial Phrase|
||after the game|
||in two weeks|
Adverbial clauses are dependent clauses that modify the main verb in the independent clauses. They start with a subordinating conjunction and in order to make sense, they must connect to an independent clause. Adverbial clauses are used to answer the following questions or to express following concepts:
- when or how often
- To what degree
- to express condition
- to express concession
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