Adverb Clauses – Examples

In English grammar, we form sentences by combining different types of clauses. Clauses are basically the group of words that we produce with the help of different parts of speech. By parts of speech, we mean the elements such as nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. When we combine these elements and form clauses, we get the different layers of a sentence.

In a general sense, clauses are said to be of two types. One is independent clause, and the other is dependent clause. However, since the dependent clause is more of an informative clause, they can function as three different parts of speech and form respective types. In this post, we will focus on such type known as the adverb clause.

Adverb clauses can be understood as the clauses that act as an adverb in a sentence. They aim to modify and provide information regarding the verb of the main clause. Take a look below to have a clearer idea.

What is an Adverb Clause?

By definition, we can simply describe an adverb clause as the type of dependent clause that acts as the adverb in a sentence. Adverb clauses function to modify or describe a verb, an adjective, or another verb in a sentence. Since they are a type of dependent clause, they can never form a complete sentence by themselves. They are always reliant on the verb of the main clause.

In simple words, adverb clauses can be understood as the type of clause that mainly tries to answer how, where, when, and why. That means they act as an adverb similar to a single adverb. The only point is that adverb clauses work together as a group of modifying words instead of a single word.

Let us look at some examples to understand better:

  • Unless you eat fast, you will miss the train.
  • When she is upset, she will scold everyone for no reason.
  • We need to get to the store where they asked us to wait.
  • When your mother arrives, we will start cooking.

It is to notice that adverb clauses can come in any part of the sentence, be it the beginning, middle, or end.

Adverb clauses and Subordinate Conjunctions

If we consider the examples above, we can see that adverb clauses follow subordinate conjunctions.

So, adverb clauses usually begin with subordinate conjunctions. Subordinate conjunctions are the linking words that aim to join a dependent clause to an independent clause. They are words like; because, unless, while, after, although, when, though, where, rather than, since, etc.

For example;

  • We are leaving today because tomorrow is a national holiday.
  • Unless you complete your homework, we are not leaving.
  • When our teacher arrives, we will all stand up in unison.

Punctuation in adverb clauses

Now that we know the meaning of adverb clauses, it is important to learn when to use a comma and when not to while introducing them in a sentence. There are mainly two basic rules;

  • When an adverb clause is introduced as an introductory clause, it strictly needs a comma. So, when we use it at the beginning of a sentence, we use a comma to separate it from the independent clause.
  • But when an adverb clause is introduced after the independent clause in a sentence, the conjunction itself can hold the two clauses together.

So, we have adverb clauses that have a primary aim of modifying verbs or another adverb. They are a type of dependent clause and can never complete a sentence alone.

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