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Building Sentences with Adverb Clauses (part one)

An Introduction to Building and Combining Sentences with Adverb Clauses

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Here we'll practice building sentences with adverb clauses. Like an adjective clause, an adverb clause is always dependent on (or subordinate to) an independent clause.

Like an ordinary adverb, an adverb clause usually modifies a verb, though it can also modify an adjective, an adverb, or even the rest of the sentence in which it appears. Adverb clauses show the relationship and relative importance of ideas in our sentences.

From Coordination to Subordination

Consider how we might combine these two sentences:

The national speed limit was repealed.
Road accidents have increased sharply.
One option is to coordinate the two sentences:
The national speed limit was repealed, and road accidents have increased sharply.
Coordination with and allows us to connect the two main clauses, but it doesn't clearly identify the relationship between the ideas in those clauses. To clarify that relationship, we may choose to change the first main clause into an adverb clause:
Since the national speed limit was repealed, road accidents have increased sharply.
In this version the time relationship is emphasized. By changing the first word in the adverb clause (a word called a subordinating conjunction), we can establish a different relationship--one of cause:
Because the national speed limit was repealed, road accidents have increased sharply.
Notice that an adverb clause, like an adjective clause, contains its own subject and predicate, but it must be subordinated to a main clause to make sense.

Common Subordinating Conjunctions

An adverb clause begins with a subordinating conjunction--an adverb that connects the subordinate clause to the main clause. The subordinating conjunction may indicate a relationship of cause, concession, comparison, condition, place, or time. Here's a list of the common subordinating conjunctions:

Cause
as
because
in order that
since
so that

Example:
"I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals. I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants."
(A. Whitney Brown)

Concession and Comparison
although
as
as though
even though
just as
though
whereas
while

Examples:
"You will find that the State is the kind of organization which, though it does big things badly, does small things badly, too."
(John Kenneth Galbraith)

"It is a waste of energy to be angry with a man who behaves badly, just as it is to be angry with a car that won't go."
(Bertrand Russell)

Condition
even if
if
in case
provided that
unless

Example:
"If you have ever lain awake at night and repeated one word over and over, thousands and millions and hundreds of thousands of millions of times, you know the disturbing mental state you can get into."
(James Thurber)

Place
where
wherever

Example:
"Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out."
(Samuel Johnson)

Time
after
as soon as
as long as
before
once
still
till
until
when
whenever
while

Example:
"As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live."
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Practice in Building Sentences with Adverb Clauses

These five short exercises in sentence combining will give you practice in developing sentences with adverb clauses. Follow the instructions that precede each set of sentences. After you have completed the exercise, compare your new sentences with the sample combinations on page two.

  1. Combine these two sentences by turning the second sentence into an adverb clause beginning with an appropriate subordinating conjunction of time:
    • In a Junction City diner, a sunburned farmer comforts his squirming son.
    • His wife sips coffee and recalls the high school prom.

  2. Combine these two sentences by turning the second sentence into an adverb clause beginning with an appropriate subordinating conjunction of place:
    • Diane wants to live somewhere.
    • The sun shines every day there.

  3. Combine these two sentences by turning the first sentence into an adverb clause beginning with an appropriate subordinating conjunction of concession or comparison:
    • Work stops.
    • Expenses run on.

  4. Combine these two sentences by turning the first sentence into an adverb clause beginning with an appropriate subordinating conjunction of condition:
    • You're on the right track.
    • You'll get run over if you just sit there.

  5. Combine these two sentences by turning the first sentence into an adverb clause beginning with an appropriate subordinating conjunction of cause:
    • Satchel Paige was black.
    • He was not allowed to pitch in the major leagues until he was in his forties.

After you have completed the exercise, compare your new sentences with the sample combinations on page two.

NEXT:
Building Sentences with Adverb Clauses (part two)

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