All About Adverbial Clauses in Spanish
There is time in every Spanish learner’s life when you need to go through the adverbial clauses. Students fear it before even starting the topic, but I’ll show you that it’s totally unnecessary. The adverbial clauses in Spanish are quite logical in their use, and I’m sure you will learn quickly and start using them sooner than later.
First, I’ll remind you what an adverb and clause is, and will explain what adverbial clauses are. Second, you’ll learn different types of adverbial clauses in Spanish. Last, but definitely not least, you’ll learn when to use the indicative or the subjunctive mood in the adverbial clauses.
What Are Adverbs, Clauses, and Adverbial Clauses?
Before getting into detail about adverbial clauses in Spanish, let’s have a quick refresher about adverbs. What are they?
You might remember that an adverb is one of the eight parts of speech, and it modifies verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Adverbs help us determine where, when, how, how long, and how often things happen. If you want to learn more, you can have a look at 50 common Spanish adverbs to use them in your daily conversations.
Next, what is a clause?
A clause is a group of words that include at least a subject and a verb, and it depends on or is included in a bigger sentence.
And now, our main question.
What is an adverbial clause?
As you can see, it’s a clause, so it’s always a group of two or more words that functions as an adverb. This group of words works as a single unit and indicates when, why, or in what way an action happens.
Voy a visitar a mi amiga cuando ya viva aquí.
I’m going to visit my friend once she lives here.
Cuando ya viva aquí is an adverbial clause that modifies the verb visitar and tells us when I’m going to visit my friend.
Easy, isn’t it? Let’s have a look at the most frequent types of adverbial clauses.
Adverbial Clauses of Time
These clauses tell us when the action happened or will happen. The most used ones are introduced by the following words.
cuando – when
antes de (que) – before
después de (que) – after
hasta que – until
en cuanto – as soon as
mientras – while
siempre que – whenever, every time that
Te llamaré cuando termine.
I will call you when I finish.
Como dulces siempre que puedo.
I eat sweets whenever I can.
Have you noticed that there is the subjunctive mood used in the first sentence but not in the other one. I’ll explain to you later why it’s so.
Adverbial Clauses of Manner
These clauses express how the action of the main sentence is done. If you can substitute the clause with an expression así (like this) or de esta manera (in this way), then you’re dealing with an adverbial clause of manner.
Yo manejo como me enseñó mi papá. – Yo manejo de esta manera.
I drive the way my dad taught me. – I drive this way.
The connectors that introduce the adverbial clauses of manner in Spanish are:
como – how
tal y como – just like
así como – as well as
de acuerdo con lo que – according to what
del mismo modo que – in the same way that
tal cual – just as it is
según – according to
Adverbial Clauses of Condition
These clauses indicate that something will happen depending on some condition and they are introduced by the following words:
a condición de que – on condition that
a menos que / a no ser que – unless
con tal de que – provided that
The greatest part is that all of them require the subjunctive, so you don’t need to wonder what to add afterward.
No lo podrás comprar a menos que tengas mucho dinero.
You won’t be able to buy it unless you have a lot of money.
You can substitute a menos que with any of the expressions we mentioned earlier.
Adverbial Clauses of Concession
They show a contrast with the other part of the sentence. It means that something happened or will happen in spite of something else.
The conjunction that will introduce this type of adverbial clauses in Spanish are:
aunque – although, even if
a pesar de que – in spite of, despite
pese a que – in spite of, despite
Nunca lo lograrás aunque te esfuerces mucho.
You will never achieve it even if you try a lot.
Lo hizo, aunque no le dejaban.
He did it, although they didn’t let him.
The same as with the adverbial clauses of time, the concessive adverbial clauses can use either indicative or subjunctive. Keep reading to know when to use one or the other.
Adverbial Clauses of Purpose
These clauses indicate for what objective an action happened or will happen and they are introduced by the following words:
para – for
para que – so that
de manera que – so, so that
Para will be followed by an infinitive and the other two will always use the subjunctive.
Trabajo para comprarme un coche.
I work to buy a car.
Lo dibujé para que sonrieras.
I drew it to make you smile.
Indicative or Subjunctive? How to use the adverbial clauses in Spanish.
As we mentioned earlier, the adverbial clauses can be followed by the indicative or subjunctive mood depending on various factors. Let’s divide them into three groups to simplify things:
- Adverbial clauses that require the subjunctive mood.
- Adverbial clauses that require the indicative mood.
- Adverbial clauses that can use either the subjunctive or the indicative mood.
1. Adverbial Clauses in Spanish Using Always the Subjunctive
The following conjunctions will always introduce an adverbial clause in the subjunctive mood:
en caso de que – in order that, so that
sin que – without
con tal de que – as long as
a menos que – unless
para que – so that
antes de que – before
mientras – as long as
a fin de que – in order that, so that
siempre y cuando – as long as, provided that
En caso de que tengas dudas, llámame.
In case you have questions, call me.
Hazlo antes de que salgas.
Do it before you go out.
Lo puedes comprar, siempre y cuando lo compartas con tu hermana.
You can buy it, as long as you share it with your sister.
2. Adverbial Clauses in Spanish Using Always the Indicative
There are some adverbial conjunctions that always use the indicative because they talk about something that is seen as habitual, completed, or sure.
The adverbial clauses with the indicative mood no matter what will be introduced by:
porque – because
ya que – considering that, since
puesto que – since
Voy a estudiar las cláusulas adverbiales ya que no las entiendo.
I’m going to study adverbial clauses since I don’t understand them.
Mi mejor amiga va a vivir en México puesto que tiene un novio de ahí.
My best friend is going to live in Mexico since she has a boyfriend from there.
Los estudiantes trabajan mucho porque quieren saber más.
Students work hard because they want to know more.
3. Adverbial Clauses in Spanish Using Subjunctive or Indicative
This is probably the most difficult part for Spanish students and it takes some time to learn the difference. There are some adverbial clauses that can be followed either by indicative or subjunctive, depending on what you want to express. The general rule is that the subjunctive mood is used when there is no certainty or the action has not happened yet.
Te veo cuando puedo.
I see you every time I can.
Te veré cuando pueda.
I will see you when I can.
In the second case, the action has not happened yet and there is no absolute certainty it will, that’s why you have to use the subjunctive.
Adverbial conjunctions that will result in adverbial clauses either in indicative or subjunctive mood are:
como – as, how, however
(a) donde – where, wherever
tan pronto como – as soon as
hasta que – until
en cuanto – as soon as
aunque – although, even though
después de que – after
cuando – when
You see, it wasn’t that difficult! You are now an expert on adverbial clauses in Spanish. You just need to remember to use the indicative when an action is complete, habitual, or factual and the subjunctive mood when it’s hypothetical or has not yet occurred.
Now, that you know all the rules and different types of adverbial clauses, the best way to learn them is to practice. Are you ready to talk to a native Spanish speaker and show off your skills? I invite you to sign up for a free class and perfect the adverbial clauses in Spanish with one of our friendly native, certified Spanish teachers from Guatemala.
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