The Adverbial Clause: Types, Functions and Examples

The Adverbial Clause: Types, Functions and Examples

Glad to find you reading The Adverbial Clause: Types, Functions and Examples. An adverbial clause is the subordinate, Beta or dependent clause that performs the function of an adverb in a sentence. An adverb modifies the verb in a sentence (the verb must be stated). It answers the questions: ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘why’, ‘how’, etc. This is because the adverbial clause has different types. For instance:

  • When he was frightened by his friend, he ran away.

It answers the question ‘when?’ which is an adverbial clause of time.

Function: It modifies the verb ‘ran away’. (A particle of ‘fled’)

Adverbial clauses are of various types and they perform the same function of modifying the verb in the sentences in which they occur. Let us see some types…

The Adverbial Clause: Types, Functions and Examples

Let us start this discussion by first looking at the various types of adverbial clauses we have with illustrative examples…

Types of Adverbial Clauses

Adverbial Clause of Time

This refers to when an action takes place. For instance:

  • As soon as the man saw his wife, he ran away.
  • Before she completed the cooking, the visitors had left.
  • After the church service, the children went to the zoo.
  • Immediately he came home, he went to bed.
  • When the war ended, many families returned to their abandoned homes.
  • While she was cooking, I came in.
  • The boy ran away when he saw the police.
  • The thief froze as soon as he heard the sirens.
  • His feeding pattern had changed since she came around.
  • Until he comes, nobody will leave the house.

Adverbial Clause of Place

This refers to where an action takes place. For instance:

  • Jane sat where her mother had prepared for her friend.
  • I will go wherever you go.
  • She promised to look for the purse wherever she might find it.
  • Send us to wherever you want to.
  • The plane crashed where it was difficult to locate.
  • He travelled where no one could reach him.
  • She fell where the makeshift wooden bridge was weak.
  • I will go wherever you go.

Adverbial Clause of Manner

This refers to how an action takes place. For instance:

  • The man was talking as if she was the leader of the group.
  • The choir sang as though the heavens would fall.
  • She performed so excellently that she got a scholarship.
  • Please do it (exactly) as I instructed.
  • (Just) as sugar attracts an ant (so) her beauty and congeniality attract customers to her shop.

Adverbial Clause of Reason

This clause tells us the reason for the action the verb expresses. Subordinating conjunctions such as that, because, since, as, etc. Examples include:

  • The man works hard because he has debts to offset.
  • Because he has money, he believes he can get away with the crime.
  • He was denied entrance as he could not pay the required fees.
  • He was not happy that he could not make the list.
  • His people were angry that he was not elected their representative.
  • She may not be charged to court since she has returned the stolen funds.

Note: sometimes, we might omit the conjunction ‘that’ as we have in the following sentences:

  • He was happy he could make the list.
  • His people were angry he was not elected their representative.
  • I am glad you were able to come.

We use ‘as’ and ‘since’ when the reason is obvious to the listener. For instance:

  • We will have to trek as the last vehicle just left.
  • Since we are not the only ones involved, we will have to wait for instructions.

In the case of ‘because’, we use it when the reason is NOT obvious to the listener.

  • The principal sent him out of school because he had not paid his fees.

Adverbial Clause of Condition

This clause usually states the condition the verb in the main clause stipulates. Some of the subordinating conjunctions that introduce this clause include: whether, if, provided, unless, as long as, etc. Let us take some examples:

  • I will only attend the event if you personally invite me.
  • Whether she likes it or not, she must complete her education in Nigeria.
  • There will be no need to go to court provided you sign the papers.
  • Unless we embark on industrial action, the government will not listen to our grievances.
  • As long as you cooperate, there would be no problem.

Sometimes, we omit the conjunction ‘if’ and makes use of the modal auxiliary ‘should’ and the non-modal auxiliary ‘were’. For example:

  • Were it not for my teacher, I would not have become a lawyer.
  • Should you come tomorrow, bring my umbrella.

A relative pronoun may sometimes introduce a clause of condition. Look at the following:

  • Whatever he gives you, do not complain.
  • However carefully you hide, the security man will certainly see you.

Adverbial Clause of Concession

As the name of this clause goes, it usually states that which we admit or acknowledge in the main clause. The subordinators that introduce this clause are mainly ‘though’ and ‘although’. However, there are other subordinators that could mean either of these words and which we could use in expressing concessionary clauses. These include: even though, while, despite, in spite of, whereas, etc. Let us see some sentences that exemplify the adverbial clause of concession…

  • Although he was indisposed, he went to the office.
  • Though he was a trained teacher, he detests teaching.
  • While she cannot speak French, she likes visiting Francophone countries.
  • Even though he cannot drive, he loves cars.
  • They eat out every weekend though they have a cook.
  • Though the kids are poor, they are very lively and happy.
  • Although he loves to take her out, his father would not allow him.
  • While it is true that investments pay, there is a need to be knowledgeable about business.
  • Despite the fact that he read very well, he failed the examination.
  • In spite of his popularity, he was not recognised.

Adverbial Clause of Purpose

We usually introduce this clause by subordinating conjunctions such as that, so that, lest, in order that, etc. The clause tells us the purpose of the action the verb states. Examples include:

  • He reads so hard so that he can graduate top of his class.
  • You need to shed off some weight lest you should become obese.
  • The ceremony was rounded off in order that attendees might get to their destinations on time.
  • We work that we may earn and have to give.
  • We should work smarter and not harder so that we will not wear out our bodies.

Note: Modal auxiliary verbs usually follow the ‘so that’ clauses. It is also possible to omit ‘that’ in some instances like:

  • I was here last week so I could talk you out of the deal.

In the case of ‘lest’, the only modal auxiliary verb we use with it is ‘should’ if we must use any. However, we can have sentence with the ‘lest-clause’ without the use of should. For example:

  • You need to shed off some weight lest you become obese.
  • Set out on time lest you miss the bus.

Adverbial Clause of Degree or Comparison

Adverbial Clause of degree usually indicates the degree, that is, the relative extent or the comparison of the verb in the main or independent clause. It answers the questions how much, how many or how little. The subordinate conjunctions that usually introduce this clause include as, than, as…as, so…as and others. Let us see some examples of this clause:

  • She is as loquacious as she is ill-mannered.
  • The factory is bigger than the one in the capital city.
  • The students were quicker in solving the sums than I expected.
  • You are not as troublesome as your brother.
  • The villains are as cunning as a fox
  • We are as qualified as their own team.

Things to Note about Adverbial Clause of Degree or Comparison

Sometimes, we might consider the correlative ‘the…the’ as a conjunction which introduces the adverb clause of degree. Examples of this instance include the following:

  • The more one grows older the more patient one becomes.
  • The richer you become the more generous you ought to be.

Also, in adverbial clauses of degree, we normally understand the verb even though we do not express it. Let us illustrate with these sentences:

  • I write as much as you (do write). or
  • I write as much as you (do).
  • She is as intelligent as her sister (is).
  • We are as busy as you (are).
  • The officer earns more than I (do).

We should note that when we do not express the verb, it is more appropriate to use object pronouns after ‘as’ and ‘than’. Let us illustrate each of these pairs…

She can dance as well as him.

  • She can dance well as he does.
  • Nobody in the office works harder than her.
  • Nobody in the office works harder than she does.
  • He is taller than me.
  • He is taller than I am.
  • We can play better than them.
  • We can play better than they do.
  • The dog is bigger than it.
  • The dog is bigger than it is.

Closing Remarks

This post has looked at the concept of the adverbial clause with its different types and illustrative examples provided. Kindly recommend this post to your friends, especially students, by sharing it with them (just a button away. You would have helped a lot of people by sharing this post. Send in your comments and see other educative posts such as:

The Nominal Clause

The Relative Clause

Clause in English

Nominal Group

Verbal Group

Adverbial Group

Thank you for always reading Akademia.


  1. Thanks for all these I must really say it’s good but I didnt find all the adverbial clauses . I mean there are others I’m looking for but couldn’t find them

  2. Thank you so much for the effort you put into this work
    I must say you’ve really done a great job
    I find it very helpful
    Please I will like to know about the result adverbial clause
    Thank you very much

    1. Thank you, Queen-Esther.
      An adverb clause of result or consequence is used to say what happens or what may happen as a result of the action mentioned in the main clause. The chief conjunction used to introduce adverb clauses of result are: so that, in order that, so…that and such…that.

  3. You have done a very wonderful job here. But, I didn’t see the functions stated for each of those sentences since we already know that they’re adverbials

  4. According to you, in adverbial clause of degree of comparison, ” We should note that when we do not express the verb, it is more appropriate to use object pronouns after ‘as’ and ‘than’.”

    This rule is then contradicted in your example: “The officer earns more than I.” This sentence, according to the rule I had learned, is correct. Quite often, in the United States, I encounter sentences in which students use the objective case when expressing degrees of comparison. Examples:
    “Tom is taller than me.”
    ” I am as intelligent as him.”

    Regardless of the inclusion or exclusion of the verb in the subordinate clause (adverbial clause of degree of comparison), the pronoun should be in the nominative case.

    I emigrated from the U.K. and am an English teacher in the U.S.

    Your comments would be appreciated.

    1. Thanks, Logan Lionel Latham for your observations.
      Let me say there is no contradiction in the example I gave: ‘The officer earns more than I (do).’
      The verb is included; though in parenthesis. If it is not included, the sentence would be rendered as: The officer earns more than me.
      I know there are slight variations among scholars when it comes to the nominative and the objective case. I will look more into this.
      Thanks, again, for your comments.

  5. I must sincerely commend you for this great work that has been done here. I really find this work helpful. I will like to know about the topics of English language that have been treated on this site.

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