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What is an adverb clause?

An adverb clause is a group of words that is used to change or qualify the meaning of an adjective,verb, a clause, another adverb, or any other type of word or phrase with the exception of determiners and adjectives that directly modify nouns.

Adverb clauses always meet three requirements:

  • First, an adverb clause always contains a subject and a verb.
  • Second, adverb clauses contain subordinate conjunctions that prevent them from containing complete thoughts and becoming full sentences.
  • Third, all adverb clauses answer one of the classic "adverb questions:" When? Why? How? Where?

Examples of Adverb Clauses

As you read the following adverb clause examples, you'll notice how these useful phrases modify other words and phrases by providing interesting information about the place, time, manner, certainty, frequency, or other circumstances of denoted by the verbs or verb phrases in the sentences. While adverb clauses are slightly more complicated than simple adverbs, they are worth learning about.

The adverb clauses in these examples are italicized for easy identification.

  1. Jennifer scrubbed the bathtub until her arms ached. (This adverb clause describes how Jennifer scrubbed.)
  2. The dogs started chasing my car once they saw it turn the corner. (This adverb clause describes when the dogs started chasing my car.)
  3. After having my wisdom teeth out, I had a milkshake for dinner because I couldn't chew anything. (This adverb clause describes why I had a milkshake for dinner.)