English Grammar Review
Clauses and Punctuation

Dependent Adverb Clauses

There are three kinds of dependent clauses: noun, adjective, and adverb.

An adverb dependent clause most often modifies the verb in an independent clause.

We believed the statements in the report until we discovered contradictory data.
[modifies the verb believed]

Because the adverb clause is tied to the action (verb) of a sentence, it provides an engaging way to add descriptive details or important information. And you can be flexible with placement: it can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, depending on where you think it sounds best.

Adverb clauses are introduced by subordinating conjunctions, of which there are many. (Examples: after, although, because, before, if, since, than, until, when, while.) They are basically any conjunction that is not a coordinating conjunction, which are few in number.

Remember: You can use the acronym FAN-BOYS as a mnemonic device to quickly list the coordinating conjunctions.

ForAndNor - ButOrYetSo

The adverb clause usually appears just before or just after the independent clause.

If the plan is to proceed to Costa Rica, we'll book a flight.

We'll book a flight if the plan is to proceed to Costa Rica.

Note: An adverb clause at the beginning of a sentence is followed by a comma, but no comma is needed for an adverb clause at the end of the sentence. An adverb clause in the middle of a sentence should be offset with two commas.

Kostia called, after he left the office, and asked for more time.

This is not a typical placement. Use it when you want to interrupt the reading to point out something important.

An adverb can also modify another adverb. The same is true for the adverb clause:

Get to Dominical as quickly as you can.
[modifies the adverb quickly]

Adverb clauses can be categorized by how they answer the basic "more information" questions about the verb:

(1) How? (2) When? (3) Where? (4) Why? (5) What extent? (6) Which condition?

Examples:

(1) How?

We work faster than they work.

Ana should respond as if everything were normal.

(2) When?

We work before they work.

When you finish, return the test equipment to Mr. Jimenez.

(3) Where?

We work wherever the job is located.

Alejandro has always lived where the climate is cool.

(4) Why?

We work because we need the money.

Because our office is closed, Jimena cannot process your order now.

(5) What extent?

We work more now than we worked last year.

He wrote as though his job depended on it.

(6) Which condition?

We work if the office is open.

Unless the traffic is bad, we should arrive by noon.

Lesson: Dependent Adverb Clauses
Module: Clauses and Punctuation
Course: English Grammar Review