by Vivion Smith

Adverbial Clauses are phrases that function as an adverb in a sentence. Adverbial Clauses can be used to show time (temporal clauses) or cause (causal clauses).

Temporal Adverbial Clauses (showing time):
While I was fishing last year, I caught a fish.
After we finished hiking for the day, we took a nap.

Causal Adverbial Clauses (showing cause):
Because my sister knew how I felt, she took me to the mall.
Since I had never been to Japan, I brought a guide book with me.

However, we can use "ING" to make these clauses shorter, provided that the subject in the adverbial clause is the same as the subject in the main clause.

For example:

 

Full Adverbial Clause
(Subjects are underlined.)

Reduced Adverbial Clause using ING

While I was biking last summer, I fell and hurt my knee. (While) biking last summer, I fell and hurt my knee.
After we had pitched the tent, we ate dinner. After pitching the tent, we ate dinner.
Because Jessie knew I had forgotten mine, she let me borrow her sleeping bag. Knowing I had forgotten mine, Jessie let me borrow her sleeping bag. (** Notice, "mine" and "sleeping bag" also refer to the same thing.)
Since I had never played Spades before, I was not very good. Having never played Spades before, I was not very good.
Since I had never played Spades before, Joe took his time explaining the game to me. WRONG: Having never played Spades before, Joe took his time explaining the game to me. Written this way, this sentence means that Joe had never played before. The full clause therefore cannot be reduced, because it has 2 different subjects, "I" and "Joe."

Some adverbial clauses can also use "ED," however, the subjects of both parts of the sentence still must be the same.

For example:

 

Full Adverbial Clause

Reduced Adverbial Clause Using ED

Because we were exposed to the sun for so long, we got sunburned. (Being) exposed to the sun for so long, we got sunburned.
Jody was embarrassed by the photo, so she left. Embarrassed by the photo, Jody left.
Mom was concerned about Tommy, so she called the police. Concerned about Tommy, Mom called the police.
Because I was irritated by the dog, Joanne put it in the backyard. WRONG: Irritated by the dog, Joanne put it in the backyard. Written this way, the sentence means that Joanne was irritated by the dog. The full clause therefore cannot be reduced, because it has 2 different subjects, "I" and "Joanne."

The Reduced Adverbial Clause does not have to be the first clause in the sentence.

For Example:

 

The family left, irritated that the bears had stolen their food. Irritated that the bears had stolen their food, the family left.
Jill stared at the sky, looking for signs of life among the stars. Looking for signs of life among the stars, Jill stared at the sky.

Common Errors: Dangling Participles

Using a heater, the house was much warmer. This means that the house was using a heater itself. Reword: Using a heater, I felt much warmer.
Sealed in an airtight container, Jill kept her flour fresh. This means that Jill is sealed in a waterproof container. Reword: Sealed in an airtight container, the flour was kept fresh by Jill.