In this month’s blog post, we will learn two things:
- How to convert an adverb clause into an adverb phrase
- Avoid dangling modifiers
To recap, an adverb clause is dependent clause that modifies the independent clause.
While I was sitting at the bar, I watched the fight.
The part of the sentence that is underlined is the adverb clause. It cannot stand alone without the help of the main (independent) clause.
All clauses contain a subject and a verb. But today we want to talk about converting that adverb clause into an adverb phrase. An adverb phrase may or may not contain a subject and a verb. In this example, you would remove the subject and the verb BE (was).
While sitting at the bar, I watched the fight.
If there is no BE form of the verb, eliminate the subject and change the verb to the –ing ending.
Before I got up, I cuddled with my cat. – the underlined section is the adverb clause
Before getting up, I cuddled with my cat. – The underlined section is the converted adverb phrase.
Now the important factor to take into account when deciding if you can convert an adverb clause into an adverb phrase is whether the subject in both clauses is the same. If it is, as in both examples already provided, then you can reduce the clause to a phrase. However, if the subjects are not the same, you cannot change the adverb clause.
While I was watching Game of Thrones, my phone rang. – you cannot reduce the adverb clause into an adverb phrase.
This is where the trouble of dangling modifiers comes in. Some people would reduce that clause into a phrase, but that is wrong.
While watching Game of Thrones, my phone rang. – This is bad. Do not do this.
The reason why it is called a “dangling” modifier is that the modifier is incorrectly “hanging alone”, without an appropriate noun or pronoun to modify. The subject on both sides of the comma is not the same.
Remember that this short blog of just under 400 words is normally taught (at least by me) over the span of at least 3-4 classes. If you have a question, please leave a comment here and I will address as soon as possible.
Focus on Grammar: An Advanced Course for Reference and Practice
Understanding and Using English Grammar - Third Edition