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Expressive adverbial clauses of time
Slash lv. 6
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There are 5 types of adverbs: time, place manner or condition, frequency and degree.  An adverb clause of time shows when something happens. Time adverbs may include before, after, as, when, while, until, as soon as, since, no sooner than, as long as etc. This lesson uses the personal expressive use of the adverbial clause of time. Remind the students that a clause must have a subject and a verb.


Teacher actions are highlighted.

  • Remind and review with the students to identify, read, and understand sentences containing clauses starting with a when. Now we will practice writing sentences with a clause.

    • Write a when clause on the board, for example, When I arrived at school this morning, _______________. Students tell what happened when they first got to school, for example:

      • When I arrived at school this morning, I slipped on some ice on the sidewalk and fell.

      • Discuss the meaning of the sentence and the English format.

  • Repeat the same modeling procedures with another sentence, for example:

    • When I fell on the ice, I hurt my knee.

  • Write a when clause on the board and ask each student to complete the sentence.

    • For example, When I finished eating breakfast this morning,_______________.

    • Write each student’s response on the board and discuss the meaning of the sentences.

  • Repeat steps using different when clauses for sentence starters.

    • For example, When I get home after school, ________.

    • When I go to the cafeteria, _______________.

  • Each student writes the clause on a paper and completes the sentence. Students write their sentences on the board, share them with the class, discuss the meaning.

  • If necessary, repeat these steps with 2-3 more clauses.

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Changing the order

Remind the students that the when clause has a subject (it) and verb (is). The one-word response and the phrase do not have a subject and verb. Compare the clause to the single word and short phrase answers from your review of the when question form.  Students will learn how to write the same sentences they have been working on, but they will use a different order. Changing the order of the sentence can make our writing more interesting. 

  • Have the sentences from the previous lessons displayed on the board.

  • Show students one of the sentences:

    • When you finish your math paper, you may go to the reading center.

    • Put the sentence in a different order.

    • Tell the students that it will still have the same meaning. on the board:

    • You may go to the reading center when you finish your math paper.

  • Show the change in the order of the clauses and the punctuation change. Emphasize the meaning of the sentence is the same.

  • Model again how to change the order of the clauses using another sentence and explain what you did.

    • Use 3 additional sentences. Ask the students how to change the order of each one. 

    • Write the students’ responses on the board under the original sentences.

    • Discuss the changes made in the order and the punctuation, and reinforce that the meaning of both sentences is the same.

  • Students work in pairs. Give each pair 3 – 5 sentences that contain when clauses in initial position. 

    • Each pair writes “new” sentences on the board. 

    • When finished, they share their work by reading and discussing their sentences with the other class members. 

  • During guided reading activities, have students identify sentences containing when clauses that they read. Discuss the order of the clauses and the meaning of each sentenc

    • When students are writing, remind them to use when clauses in their sentences

    • During editing, show students possibilities for including the targeted structure.

  • Subsequent units should present adverbial clauses of time that begin with before and after, for example:

    • Before you go to bed, brush your teeth.

    • Brush your teeth before you go to bed.

    • After you eat your lunch, you may have a cookie.

    • You may have a cookie after you eat your lunch.

  • You can follow steps similar to those in this unit with the addition of work on the sequence of events, that is, which activity in the two clauses happens first and which happens second. 

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