Relative Adverbs

An adverb which makes use of a relative clause to modify a sentence is known as Relative Adverb. Such adverbs make use of the relative pronouns such as where, when, why, whatever and wherever etc. to join sentences or clauses.


·         I know the office where you work.

·         There must be some reason why he misbehaved.

·         Can you tell me how it is installed?

·         The day when I met you was the best day of my life.

·         The picture was taken in the alley where I used to live.

·         Do you want to know why he is paying special attention to her?

·     It was the summer of 1942 when we made the transition into our adulthood.

In the above mentioned set of examples the words ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘when’, ‘where’ are Relative Adverbs because they are immediately followed by Relative Clauses.

What are Relative Adverbs?

A Relative Adverb thus can be describes as an Adverb that introduces an Adjective Clause. It introduces a group of words or a Clause that defines or modifies a Noun.

There are three main Relative Adverbs:

·         Where is used for an Adverb of Place.

·         When is used for an Adverb of Time.

·         Why is used for an Adverb of Reason.


Ø  Relative Adverbs can be used to replace a Relative Pronoun where a Relative Pronoun plus a Prepositionis used:


· This is the shop in which I bought my glares. ( Relative Pronoun + Preposition)

This is the shop where I bought my glares. (Relative Adverb)

·  Morning is the time in which we meditate. (Relative Pronoun + Preposition)

Morning is the time when we meditate. (Relative Adverb)

·  I do not know the reason for which they divorced. (Relative Pronoun
+ Preposition)

I do not know the reason why they divorced. (Relative Adverb)



Characteristics of Relative Adverbs:

1. Relative Adverbs include a Subject and a Verb or a Verb Phrase.

2.  They are introduced by words which fall in the category of Relative Pronouns / Relative Adverbs.

3.  Relative Pronouns / Relative Adverbs are called ‘Relative’ because they relate the clauses to the words they help modify.

4. Examples of Relative Adverbs:Where, When and Why.

5.  Relative Adverbs do not act as Subject or Object in the Relative Clause but only replace the Adverb.


·         I can remember the time when life was so languid.

·         Do you know the reason why they parted?

·         The classrooms where we sat in our college days do not exist anymore.

English Grammar and Composition

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