The basic purpose of an adverb clause modifier is to provide further information about a subject. In the case of adverb clauses, they usually answer the question of when, where, how, to what extent, or under what conditions. They are very common in every day speech and, after reviewing a few examples, they are easy to identify in a sentence.
What follows is a list of adverb clause modifiers, demonstrating different ways that such phrases are used to convey information. The adverb clause modifier is italicized for further clarification. Note that adverb clauses all contain a subordinating conjunction in addition to a noun and a verb.
After she set the table, she took the turkey out of the oven.
Although he was tired, he stayed awake to finish his report.
If she didn't wash the dishes, she would be punished.
The family was not going to go on vacation this year, unless they scrapped together enough money.
The dog ran around the house, while the cat took a nap.
Identifying an Adverb Clause Modifier
Finding an adverb clause modifier in a sentence is not difficult. Reviewing the sentence while asking yourself some questions will make it easy to spot.
Determine if the sentence contains a subordinating conjunction.
If it does, make sure the phrase beginning with the subordinating conjunction has both a noun and a verb.
Decide if the phrase answers one of the tell-tale questions: when, where, how, to what extent, or under what conditions.
Circle, underline, or highlight the adverb clause modifier so that it stands out.
Congratulations! You have found an adverb clause modifier!
Importance of Adverb Clause Modifiers
Adverb clause modifiers add flavor to the sentence in several ways including:
To add specificity to otherwise rather vague and ambiguous phrases - You could write "She would be punished." Yet if you read that sentence, wouldn't you want to know why she was facing the possibility of being punished? By adding the adverb clause modifier "If she didn't wash the dishes" the reason for the punishment becomes clear.
To add details and set a scene - You could write "The dog ran around the house." By adding the adverb clause modifier of "while the cat took a nap," the adverb clause modifier creates a context, and elaborates on the story.
The adverb clause modifier in a sentence clarifies, describes, expands, and modifies.