An adverbial clauses is a group of words that plays the role of an adverb. (Like all clauses, an adverbial clause contains a subject and a verb.)


Components of an Adverbial Clause

An adverb clause has a number of essential components:


Many adverb clauses also have objects.


A subject

A predicate

A subordinating conjunction


A SUBJECT is a person or thing that is “doing” something in the clause. It answers the question “who/what”.


A subject can be a pronoun, a noun, a noun phrase (noun+modifiers) or even a verb (an infinitive or gerund):

He came home very late. (pronoun)

A cat crossed the street. (noun)

Small children can be hyperactive. (noun phrase)

To leave was a good idea. (infinitive)

Swimming is a great exercise. (gerund)


A PREDICATE tells us what the subject “does”. It can be a verb or a verb phrase (verb+objects or modifiers):


Audrey laughed. (verb)

Audrey laughed happily (verb + modifier)

Audrey laughed like a little child. (verb phrase)

Conjunction (trigger word)

Most adverb clauses begin with a conjunction or “trigger word”. A conjunction sets the context of the sentence. It can indicate time, place, manner, condition, etc.


Conjunctions used with adverb clauses are called subordinating conjunctions. Adverb clauses are therefore called subordinate clauses or dependent clauses.


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 activity 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 examples are italicized for easy identification.


Jennifer scrubbed the bathtub until her arms ached. (This adverb clause describes how Jennifer scrubbed.)

The dogs started chasing my car once they saw it turn the corner. (This adverb clause describes when the dogs started chasing my car.)

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.)