The adverbial clause contains a subject and a verb and functions as an adverb that modifies verb, adjective, or another adverb. It adds extra information about the time, place, manner, etc to a sentence. As a dependent clause, it cannot stand on its own, but must be connected to the main clause (or independent clause) to form a complete sentence. The adverbial clause starts with a subordinating conjunction and may come before or after the main clause. When it comes before the main clause, a comma is used to separate the two clauses. When it comes after the main clause, no comma is necessary.
- He shook my hand before he died.
- He ate the whole, big pizza although he said he was full..
- The wife now sleeps in another room because the husband snores loudly.
- My best friend, Bill and I once fought bravely against each other when we were classmates.
The adverbial clause is placed in the beginning or at the end of a sentence.
In the beginning:
- Unless you learn to keep quiet, I shall not go to the library with you.
- While her father was asleep, his little daughter shot his face with a water pistol.
- As soon as we heard the news, all of us cried.
At the end (using the same subordinating conjunctions):
- The eldest daughter doesn’t help with housework unless she is paid.
- Mum alone is doing the cooking while the children wait to eat.
- He snores when he falls asleep.
When the adverb clause comes at the beginning of a sentence, a comma is required after the adverb clause.
- When we were classmates, Bill and I once fought bravely against each other.
- Since we have caught no fish for dinner, we may decide to buy some at the market.
- Whenever he visits his mother-in-law, he always brings along a magazine to read.
The adverbial clause performs different functions. For example, it shows the time, place, manner, etc of an occurrence.
Clauses of time – These clauses show when something happens.
Conjunctions used in clauses of time include after, as, as long as, as soon as, before, since, so long as, until, when, whenever, and while.
- He's not honest as he claims to be.
- Before he drew his last breath, he shook my hand.
- When she heard the news, she wept tears of joy. .
Clauses of place – These clauses show where something is or happens.
Conjunctions used in clauses of place anywhere, everywhere, where, wherever.
- Everywhere we went, the wind kept blowing sand into our faces.
- That is the farm where I saw a lot of scorpions.
- She brings along an umbrella wherever she goes.
Clauses of manner – These clauses show the way something is done.
Conjunctions used in clauses of manner include as, as though, like.
- As I have told you a hundred times, don’t disturb that hornets.
- She looked pale as though she had seen a few ghosts.
- He treats his dog like his own brother.
Clauses of purpose – These clauses show the purpose of doing something.
Conjunctions used in clauses of purpose include lest, in order that/to, so, so that, that.
- Let me remind you lest you forget that you still owe me ten dollars.
- In order to make the soup taste good, she added too much salt..
- Please be quiet so I can sleep..
Clauses of reason – These clauses show why something happens.
Conjunctions used include as, as long as, because, in order that, now that, since, so
Clauses of condition – These clauses show a possible situation.
Conjunctions used in clauses of condition include even if, if, in case, in the event that, in case, only if, provided, providing, unless, whether or not.
- If he were not such a heavy smoker, he would be alive today.
- I will dine with you, provided you pay the bill.
- I’m going to take away your television unless you pay me back the money.
Clauses of contrast – These clauses show clear differences: ‘this thing’ is exactly the opposite of ‘that thing’.
Conjunctions used include although, despite, even if, even though, however, in spite of, regardless of, though, whereas, while.
- Despite her parents’ objections, she insisted on driving fast.
- The wife is fat and short, while the husband is skinny and tall.
- Why good people die young, whereas bad ones live longer?