Structure: Adjuncts II
The adverbial clause functions as a single adverb. It usually modifies the verb in the main clause. In doing so, it answers one of the following questions: How? Why? When? Where? To what extent? and Under what condition? Was the action of the verb performed.
The work stops then. (single adverb)
The work stops when it rains. (adverbial clause)
The Adverbial clause, depending on its meaning, may be classified as an adverbial clause of time, place, manner, cause, condition, concession, comparison, result or degree. For instance, when a clause answers the question, When? it is said to be an adverbial clause of time.
Answering Examination Questions
1. When you enter an African compound, you see lizards on the walls, on the ground, and in the eaves.
When you enter an African compound…
i. What is the grammatical name given to this expression?
ii. What is its function?
– WAEC Nov. 1999
Before we answer the questions, let us briefly look at the sentence on which the questions are drawn. It is a complex sentence with two clauses. The bolded portion is a subordinate clause, while the rest is a main clause. Most sentences used in testing the adverbial clause are complex sentences.
In stating the grammatical name of the expression: When you enter an African compound … you have to bear in mind the following points:
a. It is a subordinate clause;
b. It is an adverbial clause because it answers the question: ‘When?’
c. It is a clause of time because in answering the question, ‘When?’ it tells you the time the action of the verb is performed.
Therefore, the full grammatical name of the expression: When you enter an African compound is: …
(Subordinate) adverbial clause (of time)
Note that subordinate and of time are optional. What the candidate needs to score maximum points in this question is adverbial clause. Indeed, many candidates earn zero here because they give such answers as: ‘subordinate adverbial clause of place’, ‘adverbial clause of reason’, etc
When stating the grammatical function of the expression, go back to the passage where you have the full sentence. Remember that the adverbial clause modifies the verb in the main clause. It is a common error for some candidates to pick the verb in the subordinate clause. Since the main clause is “… you see lizards on the walls, on the ground, and in the eaves,” the verb that is modified by the adverbial clause is ‘see’.
2. We found the treasure where the king was buried.
i. Adverbial clause
ii. Modifying the verb ‘found’
3. Sharon walks as if she were a queen.
(Modifying the verb ‘walks’)
4. Had a stray dog not given them away
(If a stray dog had not given them away), later in the afternoon, they would have escaped with their booty. – WAEC. Nov. 1994
(Modifying the verb ‘would have escaped’).
5. But because she was so plump, when she sat on the stick, it went deep into the ground and she couldn’t pull it out. – WAEC, June, 1994
(Modifying the verb ‘went deep’).
6. If the road accident results in a fire, then this can be disastrous, as the fire will prevent rescuers from coming near, thus resulting in the quick demise of the victims from burns. – WAEC, June, 1997
(Modifying the verb ‘can be disastrous’)
7. Mopping floors to earn one’s livelihood is no disgrace but at the very least, I thought they could give her a mop, so she could do her work standing, as though standing brought dignity to night-time menial labour.
– WAEC, Nov, 1993
(Modifying the verb ‘could give’)
8. Although her parents are poor, she is always well dressed
(Modifying ‘is always well dressed’)
9. My sister cooks the meal as well as my mother does.
(Modifying the verb ‘cooks’)
10. Because Aminu ate too much, he suffered constipation.
(Modifying the verb ‘suffered’)
Points to note about the Adverbial Clause
1. It usually begins with subordinate conjunction such as after, although, as, as if, as though, because, before, if, in order that, since, so that, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, wherever, while.
2. It modifies the verb, adjective, or adverb in the main clause.
3. It answers the questions: How/ When? Where? Why? To what extent? Under what condition?
1. Oral English Without Tears by I. Udoka
2. New Oxford Secondary English Course for SS 2 by Ayo Banjo et al
3. Intensive English for SS 2 by Benson O. Oluikpe et al
4. School Certificate English Language by I. Udoka