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Relative Adverbs

An adverb tells more about a verb. It can tell how, when, where, or why an action takes place. An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, another adverb or a sentence. It is often used to show time, manner and place, or degree. 

The relative pronouns where, when, why, whatever and wherever etc. act as adverbs when they join sentences or clauses. Therefore an adverb which introduces a relative clause is called a relative adverb.  
Take these sentences for example:
  • I know the house where he lives.
  • There must be some reason why he cried.
  • Can you tell me how it is done?
  • The day when I met Jane was the best day of my life.
  • That picture was taken in the park where I used to play.
  • Do you want to know why he is angry with Sally?
  • There was a very hot summer the year when he was born.

Here the words where, when, why and how are relative adverbs because they introduce the relative clauses that follow immediately.

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What are Relative Adverbs?

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Relative adverbs act as subjects or objects inside relative clauses, and at the same time they connect relative clauses to nouns or pronouns in other clauses – rather like conjunctions. The relative adverb when means “in which” or “at which” and is used to refer to a time expression. Noon is the time when we eat lunch. The relative adverb why means “for which” and is used to refer to a reason. I don't know the reason why Larry isn't in class today. The relative adverb when can be replaced by ‘in/on which’. Where can be replaced by ‘in/at which’. Why can be replaced by ‘for which’.

A relative adverb is an adverb that introduces an adjective clause.
Where is an adverb of place.
When is an adverb of time.
Why is an adverb of reason.

A relative adverb introduces a group of words, or a clause, that tells more about a noun. Relative adverbs can be used instead of a relative pronoun plus a preposition. There are three main relative adverbs:where, when, and why.

The relative adverb where means “in which” or “at which” and is used to refer to a place.
  • This is the store in which I bought my backpack. (relative pronoun plus preposition)
  • This is the store where I bought my backpack. (relative adverb)  
  • This is the place where we met.

The relative adverb when means “in which” or “at which” and is used to refer to a time expression.
  • Noon is the time when we eat lunch.  
The relative adverb why means “for which” and is used to refer to a reason.
  • I don’t know the reason why Pedro isn’t in class today.

Relative Adverbs include a subject and a verb or verb phrase and are introduced by words known as relative pronouns and relative adverbs. These types of pronouns and adverbs are referred to as relative because they relate the clauses to the words they modify. That, who, whom, whose, and which are relative pronouns, and where, when, and why are relative adverbs.

Types of Relative Adverbs

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You can identify a relative clause by looking for three main components:

  1. It will contain a subject and a verb.
  2. It will begin with a relative pronoun or relative adverb. ...
  3. The relative clause will function as an adjective, answering questions about the noun, such as: 'Which one?'

Examples of Relative Adverbs?

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A relative adverb does not act as the subject or object in the relative clause. It merely replaces an adverb. Mentioned below are examples of Relative Adverbs for better understanding:

    • The seat where we sat last Saturday is still free.
    • I can remember a time when I could eat four hamburgers.
    • We do not know the reason why he left..
    • Let's sit on this seat, where we'll get splashed.
    • I can remember my nineteenth birthday, when I had long hair.
    • Do you know the reason why Ellen left early?
    • The 80s were a time when big hair was considered fashionable.
    • I love casual Fridays, when we get to wear jeans to work.
    • Yesterday was the day when I met my husband for lunch.
    • I do not know the place where she works. 
    • Chicago is the city where Jennifer was born.
    • He is the boy who receives the gold medal. 
    • I want to speak to the person who deals with my account. 
    • The house where Mozart was born is now a museum. 
    • I flew to Munich, where I had to catch another plane to Oslo. 
    • I can't wait for the day when camp starts!
    • I remember the day when the war began. 
    • I will there where I are waiting. 
    • He is the person who paid your fees. 
    • She will rely on those who guide her properly. 
    • This is the temple which has been inducted into the List.
    • I can't remember a time when I was so happy. 
    • I don’t know the reason why he got angry.
    • Do you know the reason why the sky is blue?
    • The most stressful day of the week is Monday, when people go back to work. 
    • The reason why I didn't call you is that I've lost your phone number. 
    • The house where I was born is a very special place.
    • Paris, where I want to live, is the most beautiful city in the world.
    • I’ll always remember the river where we learned to swim.
    • I will never forget the day when I first met Susie.


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Complete each relative clause with why, when, or where: 

  1. Do you know the reason __________ she is so upset? 
  2. The day _____________ you saw me I was feeling sick. 
  3. We want to go to a beach _______ we can sunbathe and swim. 
  4. Parents should seek and find the reasons _______ their children play computer games for long hours.
  5. The library is a place _____________ you can borrow books. 
  6. That is the house ___________ we used to live. 
  7. This is the reason ____________ I never call her. 
  8. The place __________ we went yesterday is just around the corner. 
  9. Can you remember the day ______ Mr. and Mrs.Russell moved to London? 
  10. They never told us the reason ____________ they moved away. 
  11. The school ____________I study English is not far from your house. 
  12. The time is mentioned on the poster , but I can't see _______ the concert will take place. 
  13. Was that the time __________you guys went to France together? 
  14. That is the drawer ____________ I keep my t-shirts.
  15. The play, ____________ debuted last week , has been sold out every night.
  16. We’re going to see a band ____________ lead singer is a friend of ours .
  17. I’m buying a gift for the neighbor ____________ helped me move 
  18. The school director asked _______ the two kids were crying?
  19. Yellowstone National Park, ____________ opened in 1872 , was the first national park in the country.
  20. The university ____________ my sister goes to school is in Chicago.
  21. My family is taking a trip during the month ____________ I graduate from high school .
  22. Our early flight is the reason ____________ we need to leave right away in the morning .
  23. Kiara visited the office ____________ her dad works .
  24. Summer is the season ____________ I have the most fun 
  25. Diego biked to the lake ____________ he likes to go swimming .
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