Adverb Clauses Part One

English uses adverb clauses to express relationships between ideas. They express relationships of cause and effect, contrast, condition, and time. Today we’re going to provide an introduction to adverb clauses via one of the simpler relationship concepts that they can be used to express: cause and effect.


The following words and phrases are used to introduce adverb clauses that express cause and effect: because, now that, and since. In the following examples, because is used to express a simple cause and effect relationship:


Because he was bored, he watched a movie.

He watched a movie because he was bored.


Note that the adverb clause can come before or after the main clause. When the adverb clause precedes the main clause, the clauses are separated by a comma. In most cases, no comma is used when the adverb clauses follows the main clause. Another point to note is that adverb clauses are dependent clauses. They cannot stand alone as a sentence. An adverb clause must always be paired with an independent clause and must follow the grammar rules for joining the two types of clauses. Thus the following modifications of the first example would be grammatically incorrect:


Because he was bored. He watched a movie.

Because he was bored; he watched a movie.

Because he was bored, and he watched a movie.


Now that is used for present clauses of present or future situations. It is equivalent to saying “because now”:


Now that I’ve finished the adverbs lesson, I’m going to eat lunch and then work on the next blog.


I can get on with the rest of my day because I have now finished the adverbs lesson.


Emily bought a used sedan. Now that she owns a car, she can drive herself to work.


Because Emily owns a car, she can now drive herself to work.


Since can also be used to introduce adverb clauses. When used to introduce a clause expressing cause and effect, it has the same meaning as because. In this role, since is equivalent to saying “because it is a fact that” or “given that it is true that.” A sentence using since to mean because follows a “given that X is true, Y is the result” structure:


Since Jim is in the hospital, we will be shorthanded at work for the next couple of weeks.


Given the fact that Jim is in the hospital, we will have one less person at work.


Since Mary is familiar with the neighborhood, we should carpool with her to the party.


Given the fact that Mary knows the neighborhood where the party will be held, we should let her drive us there.


Note that since is also used to introduce adverb clauses that express a particular type of time relationship. This usage of since is equivalent to “from that time to the present.” We’ll cover this second use of since again when we get to expressing time relationships, but here are a couple of examples for the sake of clarity:


Since Susan began opening the store, she has had to wake up very early.


Susan has had to get up early in the morning from the time she started opening the store until the present time.


I have known John since I was in college.


From the time I went to college until the present, I have been acquainted with John.