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Adverbial Clauses

1. What is an adverbial clause?

Adverbial clauses are dependent clauses (not whole sentences) added to a main clause to give details about, or change, the verb.

Sentences can use more than one adverbial clause.

2. Different types of adverbial clauses

There are many different types of adverbial clause:

  • time clauses
  • reason clauses (because…)
  • conditional clauses (if…)
  • clauses of purpose (so…)
  • concessive clauses (although…)
  • place clauses
  • clauses of manner (like…)

In most cases, the adverbial clause can go before or after the main clause.

3. Time clauses

Time clauses say when the main clause happened.
They use words like: before, after, when, while, during.

Main clauseTime clauseExample sentence
I went to schoolafter I had eaten my breakfastI went to school after I had eaten my breakfast.
They came to visit usbefore they flew backThey came to visit us before they flew back.

4. Reason clauses

Reason clauses say why the main clause happened.
They use words like: because, as, due to.

Main clauseReason clauseExample sentence
I went to schoolbecause I had to take a testI went to school because I had to take a test.
They came to visit usas we hadn’t seen each other for a long timeThey came to visit us as we hadn’t seen each other for a long time.

5. Conditional clauses

Conditional clauses say that a clause happened if something happened.
They use words like: if, unless, should.

Main clauseConditional clauseExample sentence
I went to schoolif it wasn’t snowingIf it wasn’t snowing I went to school.
They came to visit usunless they were too busyThey came to visit us unless they were too busy.

6. Clauses of purpose

Clauses of purpose say why someone did the main clause.
They use words like: so, in order to

Main clauseClause of purposeExample sentence
I went to schoolso I could hand back my booksI went to school so I could hand back my books.
They came to visit usin order to give us our wedding presentThey came to visit us in order to give us our wedding present.

7. Concessive clauses

Concessive clauses say that a main clause happened even though something tried to stop it.
They use words like: although, even though, though, despite.

Main clauseConcessive clauseExample sentence
I went to schoolalthough I had a coldAlthough I had a cold, I went to school.
They came to visit usthough they were very busyThough they were very busy they came to visit us.

8. Place clauses

Place clauses say where a main clause happened.
They use words like: wherever, everywhere, where, in, on, by.

Main clausePlace causeExample sentence
I went to schoolwherever my family livedWherever my family lived, I went to school.
They came to visit useverywhere that we livedThey came to visit us everywhere that we lived.

9. Clauses of manner

Clauses of manner say how a main clause happened.
They use words like: how, like, as, the way.

Main clauseClause of mannerExample sentence
I went to schoolthe way I always didI went to school the way I always did.
They came to visit uslike they always used toThey came to visit us like they always used to.

10. Exercises

1. Finish these sentences with an adverbial clause described in the parentheses:
(i) I played football (time clause)
(ii) My family went on holiday (clause of purpose)
(iii) My teacher punished students (conditional clause)

2. Add different kinds of adverbial clauses to the following main clauses:
(i) They play football in the park.
(ii) She cooked a beautiful dinner.
(iii) We watched TV.
(iv) The bike was stolen by a man.
(v) The shop will open.

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