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Adverbial Clauses of Time

Adverbial clauses of time cause problems for advanced students in various areas. For example, it is not always straightforward deciding whether to use present or future verb forms. The duration of the event is also a factor in deciding which verb form to use.

 

More specifically, it can be difficult to distinguish between ‘before’ and ‘until’, and do you know the difference between ‘hardly’ and ‘no sooner’?

 

In Task 1 you frequently need to compare and contrast data at different time periods and this requires accurate use of time clauses.

 

In Task 2, time clauses might be used for various reasons, such as:

 

i) indicating ‘before’ and ‘after’ conditions (e.g. ‘Before the introduction of safety laws, there were over 50 accidents a year’).

 

ii) making an objection to an existing belief (e.g. ‘When people complain about rising taxes, they should remember that taxes help to improve living conditions for many people’).

 

iii) describing events happening at the same time (e.g. ‘While some cities are expanding their train systems, others are spending more money on road building’).

 

Quiz

1. Why are the following incorrect?

 

a) Before the guests will arrive, we need to rearrange the furniture.

 

b) When the guests had arrived, they rearranged the furniture.

 

c) When the guests have arrived, tell them to come in.

 

d) The guests continued to clap before the pianist agreed to do an encore.

 

2. Which is better?

 

e) The guests waited outside before the doors opened.

 

f) The guests waited outside until the doors opened.

 

3. What are the missing words?

 

g) The guests had hardly arrived ……. it began to rain.

 

h) No sooner had the guests arrived ….. it began to rain.

 

Exercise

Match the sentence beginnings with the correct sentence endings

 

While the number of visitors to Disneyland rose in the first half of the period,

 

attendance was disappointing.

 

The new theme park had hardly opened its doors when

 

the accident happened forcing it to close immediately.

 

Until the theme park made it easier to access their site,the number of people visiting other theme parks showed a slight fall.

 

If you are serious about taking your IELTS writing to the next level, sign up for your FREE 3 part IELTS writing video course that takes you through both task 1 and task 2. The video lessons are led by our highly experienced UK native IELTS teacher, Katherine. We also provide you with exercises to test your understanding!

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Don’t forget to COMMENT and SHARE with friends and classmates who are doing the IELTS exam also.

 

Answers to Quiz

1. Why are the following incorrect?

a) Before the guests arrive, we need to rearrange the furniture.

We use the present form with a time adverbial when referring to the future.

b) When the guests arrived, they rearranged the furniture.

c) When the guests arrive, tell them to come in.

With past and present forms, we use the same verb form as in the main clause.

d) The guests continued to clap until the pianist agreed to do an encore.

‘Until’ not ‘before’ is used when the adverbial clauses also indicates a result arising from the main clause.

2. Which is better?

 

e) The guests waited outside before the doors opened.

f) The guests waited outside until the doors opened.

e) is possible but ‘before’ means ‘at some time before’, while ‘until’ means ‘up to the time’, which in the context is a more natural expression.

3. What are the missing words?

g) The guests had hardly arrived when it began to rain.

h) No sooner had the guests arrived than it began to rain.

After ‘hardly’ the time adverbial clauses begins with ‘when’ or ‘before’. After ‘no sooner’, you need to use ‘than’.

Answer to Exercise

Match the sentence beginnings with the correct sentence endings

 

While the number of visitors to Disneyland rose in the first half of the period, the number of people visiting other theme parks showed a slight fall.

 

The new theme park had hardly opened its doors when the accident happened forcing it to close immediately.

 

Until the theme park made it easier to access their site, attendance was disappointing.

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