Adverbial Clauses

On this page, we will learn about adverbial clauses, types of adverbial clauses, rules for adverbial clauses, a Common mistake in adverbial clauses, and examples in context.

What is adverbial clause?

An adverbial clause is a group of words that functions as an adverb in a sentence. It provides information about the manner, time, place, condition, reason, or purpose of the action expressed in the main clause. Adverbial clauses often begin with subordinating conjunctions, such as "when," "while," "since," "although," "because," "if," etc.

Adverbial Clauses

Types of Adverbial Clause:

There are several adverbial clauses:

  • Time Clauses
  • Conditional Clauses
  • Reason Clauses
  • Purpose Clauses
  • Concession Clauses
  • Place

Time Clauses:

A time clause, also known as a temporal clause, is a type of dependent clause that introduces a time-related idea or condition. These clauses are often used to provide information about when an action in the main clause takes place. Time clauses are introduced by subordinating conjunctions such as when, while, before, after, as soon as, until, and whenever.

Here are some examples of time clauses:

  1. When:
    • I'll call you when I finish my work.
    • We can go to the park when it stops raining.
  2. While:
    • He watched TV while he was eating dinner.
    • I like to listen to music while I exercise.
  3. Before:
    • Finish your homework before you go out to play.
    • We need to leave before the traffic gets heavy.
  4. After:
    • We can go to the movies after we have dinner.
    • After the rain stopped, we went for a walk.
  5. As soon as:
    • I'll let you know as soon as I receive the email.
    • As soon as the bell rings, class is over.
  6. Until:
    • Stay in your room until I call you.
    • I will wait here until you come back.
  7. Whenever:
    • You can come over whenever you want.
    • Whenever I see her, she is always smiling.

This structure uses nested lists to organize the sentences with time clauses under each subordinating conjunction. Adjust the formatting and styling as needed for your specific requirements.

Here is some examples:

Conditional Clauses:

Conditional clauses, also known as conditional sentences or if-clauses, are a grammatical construction used to express a condition and its consequence. These sentences typically consist of two main parts: the "if" clause (condition) and the main clause (result). The type of conditional sentence depends on the likelihood or certainty of the condition and its result. There are four main types of conditional clauses:

  1. Zero Conditional:
    • Used to express general truths, facts, or scientific facts.
    • Structure: If + present simple, present simple.
    • Example: If it rains, the ground gets wet.
  2. First Conditional:
    • Used to talk about real and possible future situations.
    • Structure: If + present simple, will + base form.
    • Example: If it rains tomorrow, we will stay at home.
  3. Second Conditional:
    • Used to talk about unreal or unlikely present or future situations.
    • Structure: If + past simple, would + base form.
    • Example: If I had a car, I would drive to work.
  4. Third Conditional:
    • Used to talk about unreal or regretted past situations.
    • Structure: If + past perfect, would have + past participle.
    • Example: If she had known about the party, she would have come.

Reason clauses:

Reason clauses, also known as causal clauses, provide the reason or cause for the action mentioned in the main clause. They explain why something happened or is happening. These clauses are introduced by subordinating conjunctions such as "because," "since," "as," "due to," "owing to," and "for." Reason clauses can be crucial for understanding the cause-and-effect relationship between different parts of a sentence.

Here is some examples:

  1. Because:
    • She stayed home because she wasn't feeling well.

    • We canceled the outdoor event because of the rain.

  2. Since:
    • Since it was a holiday, we decided to go on a trip.

    • He didn't want to go to the party since he had other commitments.

  3. As:
    • She didn't eat much as she had already had lunch.

    • As it was getting late, we decided to leave the party.

  4. Due to / Owing to:
    • The flight was delayed due to technical issues.

    • Owing to his hard work, he received a promotion.

  5. For:
    • He apologized for his mistake.

    • We decided to go indoors for it was too hot outside.

Purpose Clauses:

Purpose clauses, also known as final clauses, indicate the purpose or intention behind the action expressed in the main clause. These clauses are introduced by subordinating conjunctions such as "so that," "in order that," "to," and "for the purpose of." Purpose clauses explain why someone does something or the goal they aim to achieve. They help convey the intended result or objective of the action in the main clause.

Here is some examples:

  1. So that:
    • She studied hard so that she could pass the exam.

    • He left early so that he wouldn't miss the train.

  2. In order that:
    • We took notes in class in order that we could review them later.

    • He wore a raincoat in order that he wouldn't get wet.

  3. To:
    • She worked overtime to earn extra money.

    • We exercise regularly to stay healthy.

  4. For the purpose of:
    • He bought a new laptop for the purpose of improving his work efficiency.

    • They established the committee for the purpose of addressing community concerns.

Concession Clauses:

Concession clauses, also known as concessive clauses, express contrast or concession by presenting an idea that contrasts with the main clause. These clauses often include words like "although," "though," "even though," "while," and "despite." Concession clauses indicate an unexpected or contradictory situation, emphasizing that despite a particular condition, the main clause still holds true.

Here is some examples:

  1. Although:
    • Although it was raining, we decided to go for a walk.

    • She went to the party, although she wasn't feeling well.

  2. Though:
    • We continued with the project, though we faced numerous challenges.

    • Though he studied hard, he didn't perform well on the exam.

  3. Even though:
    • Even though it was a holiday, she went to work.

    • He insisted on helping, even though we told him it wasn't necessary.

  4. While:
    • We enjoyed the concert, while it was raining outside.

    • While he was tired, he still managed to finish the race.

  5. Despite:
    • Despite the bad weather, they decided to have a picnic.

    • He passed the exam, despite not having much time to prepare.


An adverbial place clause is a type of adverbial clause that provides information about the location or place where the action in the main clause occurs. Adverbial place clauses are introduced by subordinating conjunctions or relative pronouns that indicate place or location.

Common subordinating conjunctions and relative pronouns used to introduce adverbial place clauses include:

  1. Where:
    • She visited the park where she used to play as a child.

    • We went to the restaurant where we had our first date.

  2. Anywhere:
    • You can sit anywhere you like.

    • He looked anywhere but couldn't find his keys.

  3. Everywhere:
    • We searched for the lost keys everywhere.

    • The children left toys everywhere in the room.

Rules for Adverbial Clauses

Adverbial clauses are made up of two clauses, one independent and one dependent, so keep that in mind (look at these lessons on sentence clauses and complex sentences again if you are not sure what clauses are).

1. Switching the Clause:

The independent and dependent clauses can be turned around, which is the first thing to note:

After I have finished my Masters, I intend to study in the USA.
         (Dependent Clause + Independent Clause)

I intend to study in the USA after I have finished my Masters.
         (Independent Clause + Dependent Clause

The clauses in each of the sentences in the table above can be changed.

2. Commas:

However, keep in mind that if you reverse the order and write the dependent clause first, a comma must follow the dependent clause's final word:

After I have finished my Masters, I intend to study in the USA. (With Comma)

I intend to study in the USA after I have finished my Masters. (Without Comma)

Although it might seem like a small detail, it is crucial to your writing. Without commas, it might be difficult to tell where one clause ends and another begins, which can make complex sentences difficult to understand.

Your grade will be affected if any of your sentences are unclear.

*There are exceptions to this rule for the words "while" and "whereas," which employ commas even when they are in the middle of a sentence.

3. Meanings:

The adverbial clauses table groups some adverbs together, although this does not imply that they are all synonyms for one another.

Some words can be substituted for one another without the meaning changing. For instance, you can use "since," "as," or "because" since they all mean the same thing. But you can't with some.

Take a look at these conditional adverbs, for example:

I will deny if you deny.

I will deny unless you deny.

In the second statement, the term "unless" is ineffective. It needs to be modified:

I won’t deny unless you deny.

It now means the same thing.

Similar to how "despite," "even though," and "though" are all interchangeable synonyms, "while," and "whereas" are not necessarily interchangeable with them.

As a result, you must practice each word individually and examine its context.

A Common Mistake

Writing in fragments when using adverbial clauses (and other complex sentences) is a typical error.

An incomplete statement is a fragment.

My Science is not improving. Because I am not practicing enough.

The second clause in this sentence, which is a dependent clause, cannot stand alone as a sentence. This has resulted in the second phrase into a sentence fragment by adding a full stop after "better".

An independent clause must be affixed to a dependent clause:

My Science is not improving because I am not practicing enough.

Check your difficult sentences and make sure there are no writing errors when you proofread your work.

Examples in Context:

Check out this essay example. The independent clauses are highlighted in green (and italics) while the dependent clauses are highlighted in red in the adverbial clauses (and underlined). Purple shading is applied to the adverbs.

According to some, a university degree should assist students land better jobs after graduation. Others think that the advantages of a university degree for people and society as a whole are considerably greater.

Give your thoughts on the two points of view.

More and more people are choosing to attend college these days. While some individuals believe that attending college is solely necessary to increase career chances, others believe that there are many more benefits for society as a whole and the individual as well.

Undoubtedly, one of the main purposes of going to college is to get a better job. The majority of people want to maximize their chances of landing a good job in the future, and attending college is one of the best ways to do this because it increases one's marketability and makes one more desirable to employers. Furthermore, because it is so expensive, most individuals would not contemplate continuing their education if it did not guarantee them a better future and a greater standard of life. Consequently, employment prospects are crucial.

Other advantages for people and society do exist, though. The independence that comes with independent living is advantageous first and foremost because it helps students develop both as individuals and as social beings. For instance, many students will be forced to leave their homes, live in residence halls, and meet new people. As a result, they will become more mature and self-assured, enabling them to lead lives that are more fulfilling.

In the modern, fiercely competitive world, nations must have educated citizens in order to compete and develop.

Consequently, I believe that while gaining the best job is a key purpose of a university education, there are unquestionably additional benefits. If we continue to support and encourage going to university, both people and society will benefit in the future.

A variety of sentence structures is beneficial. And as you can see, there are a variety of adverbial clauses, showing that the applicant has a strong command of grammar.

Attempt to write your own essay. As soon as you're done, go back through your work and underline any adverbial sentences, noting the adverb and any dependent or independent clauses.

Exists a mixture? Are they being used correctly, with no sentence fragments, and with subjects and verbs in each clause.