adverb clause

Save This Word!

noun Grammar.
a subordinate clause that functions as an adverb within a main clause.
Do you know the difference between everyday US and UK terminology? Test yourself with this quiz on words that differ across the Atlantic.
Question 1 of 7
In the UK, COTTON CANDY is more commonly known as…
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is an adverb clause?

An adverb clause is a subordinate clause (also called a dependent clause) that acts as an adverb.

A clause is a group of words with a subject and predicate. A subordinate clause cannot stand on its own as a complete sentence. Instead, it modifies the main clause. An adverb is a word that modifies verbs, adjectives, clauses, and other adverbs.

As its name suggests, an adverb clause is a group of words that act like an adverb. Like adverbs, adverb clauses can modify almost any word in a sentence except nouns, pronouns, and articles. As clauses, they must have a subject and a predicate, as in I ran until I couldn’t feel my legs.

Because they are subordinate clauses, adverb clauses must have a subordinating conjunction that connects it to the main clause. These conjunctions will make it easy to identify what the adverb clause is in a sentence. Where, when, because, and if are examples of subordinating conjunctions.

Why is adverb clause important?

The phrase adverb clause has been used as early as 1866. It combines the words adverb and clause. An adverb clause is a clause that acts like an adverb and follows the rules of both clauses and adverbs.

Like adverbs, adverb clauses answer questions of how, why, when, and where. Here is an example of each:

  • How: If you study really hard, you can pass the test.
  • Why: I couldn’t go to the party because I had work that night.
  • When: She grabbed the orange before it rolled off the table.
  • Where: You’ll find him wherever trouble is. 

Adverb clauses can go at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence. Unless they are at the end, adverb clauses are often separated from the rest of the sentence with commas:

If I knew, I would tell you. 

The puppy, because it was hungry, barked loudly at its owner. 

I could give you a ride to the airport if you know the way.

Did you know … ?

Because they are subordinate clauses, you can use multiple adverb clauses in one sentence, as in Because I didn’t want to wake him, I snuck past the sleeping bear as soon as I had the chance.

What are real-life examples of adverb clause?

This chart gives some examples of subordinating conjunctions you can use to introduce adverb clauses.

Where where, wherever
When when, whenever, after, before, until, as soon as, while, by the time
Why because, since, so, in order to
How if, in case, in the event of


We use adverb clauses all of the time, though writers and writing teachers are usually the only ones who talk about them.


What other words are related to adverb clause?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

An adverb clause acts like an adjective in a sentence.

How to use adverb clause in a sentence