Unit 4.2

Temporal Subordinate Clauses

Introduction

Temporal clauses are part of the adverbial clauses which are composed of independent and dependent clauses, linked by connectors. The connectors of temporal clauses refer to a specific point in time.

Form

The temporal clause can be expressed through two kinds of structures that differ in the order of words but not in meaning:

  • connector + clause + , + clause;
  • clause + connector + clause.

The clauses are made up of subject + verb. The connectors are: before, after, when and while.

Example

 

  • The ambulance came after you fainted.
  • After we saw her, we realised she had short hair.
  • I straighten my hair before I go to work.
  • Before it starts raining, we should leave.
  • She felt bad when she found out the truth.
  • When they were sleeping, the light was on.
  • They had some coffee while you were reading.
  • While he is dancing, he feels good.

Use

We use temporal clauses to form more complex sentences and locate an event in a specific moment or period.

The temporal clause makes sense thanks to the following connectors:

  • after (subsequent event);
  • before (previous event);
  • when (in a specific moment).
  • while (at the same time as another event).

Summary

Temporal clauses are used to form more complex sentences and locate an event in a specific moment or period. They are usually composed of two parts: the independent and the dependent clauses, which are linked by a connector.

These connectors are: before, after, when and while.

The structure is:

We start with the connector followed by a clause, a comma and another clause. We can also start with a clause followed by the connector and clause (we don’t use a comma here).

For example:
— “Before you cook dinner, I’ll have a shower.” / “I’ll have a shower before you cook dinner.” = The shower is the first event to take place and the dinner the second.
— “After you cook dinner, I’ll have a shower.” / “I’ll have a shower after you cook dinner.” = The dinner is the first event to take place and the shower the second.
— “When the dinner is ready, I’ll have a shower.” / “I’ll have a shower when the dinner is ready.” = The shower is the second event that happens in a specific moment.
— “While you cook dinner, I’ll have a shower.” / “I’ll have a shower while you cook dinner.” = The two events happen at the same time.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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