Adverb Clauses: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Debbie Notari
In this lesson, we will review the adverb clause. The adverb clause lets readers know when, where, how, and why something happens in a sentence. Without adverb clauses, sentences are definitely less interesting.


In order to understand the adverb clause, we need to break it down a bit and define what the words 'adverb' and 'clause' mean. An adverb does what it sounds like - it adds information to the verb, adjective or another adverb in a sentence. An adverb tells us when, where, why, and/or how something happens in the sentence.

A clause is a group of words that has both a subject and a verb. Clauses can stand alone, and if they express a complete thought, they are complete sentences. However, if a clause does not express a complete thought, it is called a dependent clause, and it is added on to a complete sentence, giving that sentence additional information.

Therefore, an adverb clause is a group of words that has both a subject and a verb that provides additional information in a sentence. The adverbial clause does not stand alone as a complete thought, so it serves as a dependent clause. It tells us when, where, why, and how.

Identifying Adverb Clauses

An adverb clause begins with a subordinating conjunction. That is a big title for a fairly simple concept. Subordinating conjunctions are words that introduce adverb clauses; they join adverb clauses to main clauses. Because adverb clauses begin with subordinating conjunctions, they cannot be complete thoughts in and of themselves, nor stand alone.

Here is a list of common subordinating conjunctions:

after, while, how, till ( or 'til), although, if, unless, as, inasmuch, until, as if, in order, that, when, as long as, lest, whenever, as much as, now that, where, as soon as, provided (that), wherever, as though, since, because, so that, before, than, even if, that, even though, and though.

Sample Adverb Clauses

Let's take a simple sentence. 'The baker created a stunning dessert.' Just for illustrative purposes, we will build the sentence, adding a 'how,' a 'when,' a 'where,' and a 'why.' These additions are examples of adverb clauses.

1. Using the skills he learned in Paris, the baker created a stunning dessert. (how)

('Using the skills he learned in Paris' is an adverbial clause.)

2. Before he left for the contest, the baker created a stunning dessert. (when)

3. The baker created a stunning dessert after he made dinner in his kitchen. (when and where)

4. The baker created a stunning dessert that he might impress the Queen of England. (why)

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