Adverb clauses are groups of words that function as an adverb. To understand this, you need to know about clauses and the functions of adverbs.
Types of Clauses
A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb (predicate). This differs from a phrase, which does not have a subject and a verb, like “to the park.” Clauses can be independent or dependent.
- Independent clauses are called sentences as they can stand alone and express a complete thought.
- Dependent clauses, or subordinate clauses, are subordinate to something else, usually an independent clause, and depend on it for meaning. Here are some examples with the dependent clause underlined:
- Because he has a college degree, he was given a great job.
- When the storm started, she was at the store.
- Bob wore the coat that I gave him.
You can see that each underlined clause cannot stand on its own, but needs a clause to help it make sense or to help it complete a thought.
What Is an Adverb Clause?
Adverb clauses are clauses that function as adverbs. Since they are dependent clauses, they must have a subordinating conjunction to connect them to the other clause.
Subordinating conjunctions can be arranged according to the purpose of the clause they begin. Here are some examples of subordinating conjunctions:
- Time: after, when, until, soon, before, once, while, as soon as, whenever, by the time
- Condition: if, whether or not, provided, in case, unless, even if, in the event
- Cause and effect: because, as, since, so, in order that, now that, inasmuch as
- Contrast: though, although, while, whereas, even though
Most of the time, an adverb clause will be separated from the other clause with a comma. Here are a few examples of sentences with and without commas:
- Whether you like it or not, you have to go. (The adverb clause “Whether you like it or not” puts a condition on the action.)
- She enjoyed the party more than he did. (The adverb clause 'than he did' modifies the adverb “more”.)
Functions of Adverbs
Since adverb clauses function as adverbs, let’s look at the functions of adverbs.
- Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.
- They tell why, when, where, how, how much, and how often an action occurs.
- They can begin a sentence that is a question, and give more information.
Here are some examples according to what the adverb is modifying:
- Verbs: We eat pizza weekly. She watched the wild animal carefully.
- Adjectives: That is a very nice person. The dog is extremely hyperactive.
- Adverbs: She sings quite beautifully. My dog is almost always starving.
Examples of Adverb Clauses
Adverb clauses can modify by telling the place, time, cause, and purpose of an action. They can also show concession and condition. Basically they answer the questions: Where?, when?, why?, and under what conditions? Here are some examples with the adverb clause underlined:
- Place: Wherever there is music, people will often dance. If you know where they live, you can drop in for a visit.
- Time: After the chores are done, we will eat ice cream. When the clock strikes midnight, she has to leave.
- Cause: She passed the course because she worked hard. Since he has long hair, he wears a ponytail.
- Purpose: So that he would not ruin the carpet, he took off his shoes. He ate vegetables in order to stay healthy.
- Concession: Even though you are 13, you can’t go to that movie. Although you gave it your best, you did not win the match.
- Condition: If you save some money, you can buy a new game. Unless you hurry, you will be late for school.
For more examples check out Examples of Adverb Clauses.