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ELC Los Angeles Grammar Lesson – Reducing Adverb Clauses March 17th, 2014

Reducing Adverb Clauses to Modifying Adverbial Phrases

That sounds complicated – all those multi-syllabic words just to describe one point of English grammar.  It must be difficult, right?

What is an adverb clause?

Actually, reducing an adverb clause to create a modifying adverbial phrase isn’t as tough as it sounds. In fact, at the intermediate level, it’s a grammatical construction that becomes more and more natural with increasing English fluency.

Check this out:

While Khalid was walking to class, he found $10 on the sidewalk.

In this sentence while Khalid was walking to class is the adverb clause. It shows the relationship between Khalid’s walking and when he found the $10—he discovered the money on his way to class.

Is there a shorter way to express this information?

Yes! Indeed, there is.

How to reduce it

You can reduce the adverb clause to a modifying adverbial phrase and still convey the same meaning, like this:

While walking to class, Khalid found $10 on the sidewalk.

The adverb clause while Khalid was walking to class is shortened and becomes while walking to class, a modifying adverbial phrase. A modifying adverbial phrase describes the subject of the main clause.

Here are the rules for changing adverb clauses to modifying adverbial phrases:

  1. The subjects of both the adverb clause and main clause must be the same.

  2. Omit the subject of the adverb phrase and change the verb to –ing (present participle).

or

  1. If there is a be form of the verb in the adverb clause, omit the subject and omit the be verb, use only the –ing (present participle).

Now, try reducing these adverb clauses to modifying adverbial phrases in these sentences:

1. After she purchased the shoes, Maria decided to exchange them for a different color.

2. Since Marc came to Los Angeles, he has learned much more English and made new friends.

3. Before she began the new class, Alexa purchased a textbook and dictionary.

The adverb clauses are reduced and become modifying adverbial phrases like this:

  1. After purchasing the shoes, Maria decided to exchange them for a different color.

  1. Since coming to Los Angeles, Mark has learned much more English and made new friends.

  1. Before beginning the new class, Alexa purchased a textbook and dictionary.

Using modifying adverbial phrases in a sentence is a good way to succinctly get your point across—fewer words with the same meaning!