How to Reduce Adverb Clause?

Reduction of a dependent clause is its shortening to a phrase to bring conciseness in writing. Since a dependent clause contains a subject-verb unit, reduction results in losing this combination. In this post, we’ll learn how adverb clauses are reduced.

Learn why professional writers often reduce clauses to phrases:

With step-wise process and several examples, learn how the other two dependent clauses are reduced and when they should not be reduced:

When can an adverb clause be reduced?

Adverb clause of few types (time, reason, and concession) can be reduced only if the independent clause and the adverb clause have the same subject. The adverb clause in the first sentence, for example, can be reduced but not in the second.

After I finished the daily chores, I settled down to prepare for the next week. [The adverb clause and the independent clause have the same subject, I. Hence, the clause can be reduced.]

After Uber captured commuters’ attention, similar companies sprang up all over the world. [The adverb clause and the independent clause have different subjects: Uber vs. similar companies. Hence, the clause can’t be reduced.]

If an adverb clause of time, reason, or concession meets the above condition, we can reduce it through following step-wise process.

  1. Remove the subject. Also, if necessary, change the subject of the independent clause.
  2. Remove any auxiliary verbs (do, be, and have) and convert the main verb into present participle form.
  3. Remove the subordinating conjunction if its removal doesn’t affect the meaning.

As we’ll see, the above process may be tweaked depending on the type of adverb clause. Unlike reduction of relative clauses, reduction of adverb clauses results in a participial phrase, mainly present but sometimes past. They inherit adverbial property of adverb clauses, which, as we know, function as adverb in a sentence. (You’ll find some sources on the internet mentioning that reduction of an adverb clause results in an adverb phrase. That’s incorrect. Reduction of adverb clause results in an adverbial phrase, participial phrase being one of it.)

Learn more about adverbial phrase:

Let’s take reduction of three types of adverb clauses – time, reason, and concession – one by one.

1. How to reduce adverb clause of time?

An adverb clause of time starts with subordinating conjunctions such as before, after, while, when, since, and as soon as. Of these, when and while are sometimes omitted when the meaning is clear without them (see the third step in the process mentioned earlier). Here are few examples of reductions, with the first explained in detail:

(Words inserted as part of reduction have been shown in magenta font.)

1. While Susan was going through her Facebook feed, she came across a disturbing photo.

While Susan was going through her Facebook feed, she Susan came across a disturbing photo. [Step 1: The subject, Susan, is removed from the adverb clause, and the subject in the independent clause is changed. If we don’t change the subject in the independent clause, Susan would be lost. Step 2: Auxiliary verb, was, is removed. Since the main verb is already in present participle form, we don’t need to change it.]

2. My mother reached seventy words a minute after she trained training for few months. [Here, the adverb clause occupies the end position.]

3. Before I joined joining this position, I was working as marketing manager.

4. When I look Looking at my friendships, I realize that most of them are either over or have become once-in-six-month-texting type. [Step 3 also comes into play here as the meaning is clear without when.]

5. Since my brother started starting the new fitness regime, he my brother has lost 12 pounds.

6. As soon as On Sam reached reaching his cabin, he Sam asked his secretary to call an emergency meeting of all division heads. [The subordinating conjunction as soon as is replaced by on or upon.]

Earlier, we learnt that adverb clauses can’t be reduced if they don’t share the subject with the independent clause. Here is an example of what happens if we try to reduce when this condition is not met.

After Uber captured commuters’ attention, several Companies with the same business model sprang up all over the world. [The two subjects are different: Uber and several Companies]

After Uber captured capturing commuters’ attention, several Companies with the same business model sprang up all over the world.

After reduction, the meaning gets distorted. The sentence now means that several Companies – and not Uber – have captured commuters’ attention.

2. How to reduce adverb clause of reason?

An adverb clause of reason starts with subordinating conjunctions such as because, as, and since. While reducing adverb clause of reason, we always omit subordinating conjunctions. Here are few examples of reductions, with the first explained in detail:

1. Since I didn’t believe what he said, I checked with a doctor.

Since I did Not believe believing what he said, I checked with a doctor. [Step 1: The subject, I, is removed from the adverb clause. Step 2: Auxiliary verb, did, is removed, and the main verb, believe, is converted into present participle form. Note that not is retained. Step 3: Subordinating conjunction, since, is removed.]

2. Because Sam was Being too late, he Sam was marked absent. [Here, was is main – and not auxiliary – verb. Hence, it has been converted to its present participle form, being. In this case, adverb clause is in the front position, but if it was in the end, the reduced form should still start the sentence for a more natural flow.]

3. How to reduce adverb clause of concession (or contrast)?

An adverb clause of concession or contrast starts with subordinating conjunctions such as although, even though, and though. While reducing adverb clause of concession, we don’t omit subordinating conjunctions. Here are few examples of reductions, with the first explained in detail:

1. Although she didn’t want to go, she went to work.

Although she did not want wanting to go, she went to work. [Step 1: The subject, she, is removed from the adverb clause. Step 2: Auxiliary verb, did, is removed, and the main verb, want, is converted into present participle form.]

2. Though he was swimming in no-shark zone, he was warned by the lifeguard. [Since the main verb is already in present participle form, we don’t need to convert it.]

The main verb can sometimes be past participle in the reduced clause

So far, we’ve converted main verb in the adverb clause into present participle form. But if the adverb clause is in passive voice, we don’t need to convert the main verb. It’ll already be in past participle form, which we can retain. (An adverb clause in passive voice is of the form ‘subordinating conjunction + subject + be verb + past participle form of verb’.)

When reducing adverb clause in passive voice, like before, we drop subject and the auxiliary verb. But we retain the past participle. Sometimes, mainly when reducing adverb clause of time, we also use being before the past participle. Here are few examples of reductions of adverb clause in passive voice, with the first explained in detail:

1. Before I was promoted, I worked as sales manager.

Before I was being promoted, I worked as sales manager. [Step 1: The subject, I, is removed from the adverb clause. Step 2: Auxiliary verb, was, is removed, and the main verb, promoted, is left as it is. We also use being before the verb.]

2. He lost the match after he was being injured.

3. He fainted when he was informed about the accident. [No being here]

4. Because I was Worried about another surge in Covid cases, I canceled my travel plans.

5. Because I am Being enrolled in this class, I have to attend classes on Saturday. [This can work without being, but it sounds better with it.]

6. Although the tycoon’s son was groomed in the best possible way, he the tycoon’s son struggled to take the business any further.

If you can reduce an adverb clause doesn’t mean you should

If the condition for reduction is met – adverb clause and independent clause have the same subject – you can reduce an adverb clause, but that doesn’t mean you should. If reduction results in even slightest of awkwardness or loss of meaning, don’t reduce. Your purpose is to convey meaning, and not to pull off a grammatical feat. If something comes in the way of this purpose, even slightly, avoid it. These reductions, for example, sound somewhat awkward and should best be left unreduced.

Because I was Driving at 110 kph, I met with an accident. [Readers may miss because relationship in the reduced version]

Although People know knowing that fast food is bad for health, they people don’t shy away from it. [Little awkward]

Among adverb clauses, adverb clauses of time are most commonly reduced in professional writing, but they’re nowhere close to reductions of relative clauses starting with ‘relative pronoun + be verb’.

Exercise on reduction of adverb clause

Reduce adverb clauses that can be.

1. If you take care of important things in your life, you’ll lead a happy life.

2. After the police was hauled up by the court, they investigated the case seriously.

3. Although I was driving at only 40 kph, I met with an accident.

4. Since I started taking afternoon nap, my productivity in the evening has gone up by few notches.

5. Since I’ve received the award, I’m on seventh heaven.

Answers to Exercise

1. The adverb clause can’t be reduced through standard methods as it’s not an adverb clause of time, reason, or concession.

2. After being hauled up by the court, the police investigated the case seriously. [The adverb clause is in passive voice. Refer the relevant section in the post.]

3. Although driving at only 40 kph, I met with an accident.

4. It can’t be reduced because the adverb clause and the independent clause don’t have the same subject.

5. Since receiving the award, I’m on seventh heaven.

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