Relative Adverbs – Examples

We know that adverbs modify a verb and change the meaning of a sentence by providing more information. They are a basic unit of English grammar that helps us convey a complete thought in a sentence.

Well, that is only the basic understanding of adverbs. If we go deeper into its uses, we realize that adverbs are of different types that have variant functions to perform. One such type of adverbs called the relative adverbs is what we are going to learn in this post.

In a general sense, relative adverbs can be defined as words that introduce additional information by heading an adjective clause in a sentence. They may seem like simple conjunction words, but they can be hard to recognize. So, let us discuss thoroughly below to avoid any confusion.

What are relative adverbs?

By definition, relative adverbs are the type of adverbs used to start or introduce a relative clause. But what are relative clauses? In a simple sense, when the dependent clause of a complex sentence functions as an adjective, it is said to be a relative clause. A relative clause provides additional information in a sentence. And to introduce that clause, we use a relative adverb.

In short, relative adverbs help add more information about a person, place, or thing that is being discussed in a sentence. This means they join clauses together and present a relative or adjective clause in a sentence.

The three basic relative adverbs are when, where, and why. They are the same as interrogative adverbs. But here, they are not used to begin a sentence or ask something. Instead, relative adverbs are used to introduce a relative clause in a sentence that provides information about the noun.

Let us try to understand with some examples.

This is the café.

Here we notice that the above sentence looks incomplete without any relative clause.

This is the café where we met.

Now, in this sentence, adverb where introduces a relative clause that makes the sentence complete.

Usage of relative adverbs

We have learned that relative adverbs begin relative clauses in a sentence. However, it may be difficult to recognize a relative adverb sometimes. Because, as mentioned earlier, these words do not function as relative adverbs only. They have different uses, such as interrogating, and sometimes, they are even used in nouns and adverbial clauses.

So, the key to recognizing a relative adverb is by checking whether they are introducing an adjective clause or not. That means when you identify the relative clause in a sentence, the adverb heading the clause would automatically be the relative adverb.

Now, let us have a brief idea of how the three different relative adverbs work.

When: The relative adverb when helps realize the time in which a particular action took place. It replaces the formal context of when that is “in which”.

I remember the time when I used to cry a lot.

Where:Where” is the adverb that helps us understand the place or location of the subject. Here, it replaces the formal context of where that is “in which” or “at which”.

This is the table where we sat.

Why: This relative adverb presents more reasons why something occurred. It replaces the formal context of why that is “for which”.

I have no idea why he even left.

So, relative adverbs might get confusing sometimes. But if you can correctly identify its uses, it will not be much of a trouble.

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