Unit 4.2

Temporal Subordinate Clauses

Complex Clauses - 2 minutes

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

After

  • After you fainted, the ambulance came.
  • The ambulance came after you fainted.
  • After we saw her, we realised she had short hair.
  • We realised she had short hair after we saw her. 

Before

  • Before I go to work, I straighten my hair.
  • I straighten my hair before I go to work.
  • Before it starts raining, we should leave.
  • We should leave before it starts raining.

When

  • When she had a disease, she felt bad.
  • She felt bad when she had a disease.
  • When they were sleeping, the light was on.
  • The light was on when they were sleeping.

While

  • While you were reading, they had some coffee.
  • They had some coffee while you were reading.
  • While he is doing the exercise, he feels good.
  • He feels good while he is doing the exercise.

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.

Exercise

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