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Grammer Focus: Adverbial Clause of Time

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Grammer Focus: Adverbial Clause of Time – Understand the form and uses of adverbial clause of time; especially within a context of writing narrative texts.

Adverb of Time and Adverbial Clause of Time

Adverbial clause of time states when an action happens. It is usually shown through the use of adverb of time in the clause. To show adverb of time, you can use subordinate conjunctions:

Words that introduce adverb of clauses are called subordinating conjunctions. Those subordinate conjunctions cannot stand alone, on their own. They must be attached to an independent clause. An adverb clause of time can come before and after the main clause. When it comes before the main clause, it is usually separated with comma. It does not need comma, when the adverb clause goes after the main clause.

Example 1:

  • When Snow White was staring at the sky, the evil witch came across. (with comma)
  • The evil witch came across when Snow White was staring at the sky. (no comma)

In the sentence, the clause “When Snow White was staring at the sky” indicates the time when the evil witch came.

Example 2:

  • Cinderella finished her work before she came to the party.
  • Before she came to the party,** Cinderella finished her work.

In this sentence, the clause “before she came to the party” indicates the time when she has successfully finished her work.

Example 3:
* As soon as he finished his homework, he went home.
* He went home as soon as he finished his homework.

The clause “As soon as he finished his homework” reveals the time when he went home.

The bold clauses are adverb clauses. They are dependent clauses because they cannot stand alone as a sentence. They need other sentences which are called independent clauses (see the italic sentences)

Do You Understand?

In the following section, you will learn how adverbial clause of time is used in composing narrative texts. Read the paragraph carefully and notice the use of the clause.

Once upon a time in a small cottage in a village, there live an old man and an old woman. They lived happily though they do not have children. One day, they decided to make gingerbread. She carefully mixed the batter, rolled out the dough, and cut out a very nice gingerbread man. She added sugar icing for his hair, mouth, and clothes, and she used candy chips for buttons and eyes. The old woman put him in the oven to bake. After he was fully done, she slowly opened the oven door. As soon as the oven door opened, the gingerbread man jumped up saying, “Run … run … as fast as you can. You can’t catch me. I’m the gingerbread man”. The old man and the old woman ran after him, but they could not catch him.

Some clauses that are used in the above story are: Once upon a time, After, As soon as.
Once upon a time is used to write the beginning of a story.
After and as soos as, are used to write moments or events that happen in the story based on chronological order.

The adverbial clauses of time that are used in the story of Gingerman are:
1. Once upon a time in a small cottage in a village, ….
2. After he was fully done, ….
3. As soon as the oven door opened, ….

Key Points

  1. In writing a story (narrative text), you need to use specific writing techniques, including using past tense and inserting adverbial clause of time that indicates order of events occuring in the past.
  2. The clauses are used to make the plot runs progressively from the beginning of the story to the end.
  3. It is important to insert the adverbial clause of time smartly. Mark the transition from one event to another using the right clause.
  4. Sequencing or putting event or moments in the story is important to make a good plot.
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