Adverb · Uncategorized

Reduced Clauses

 

I’ve received a few questions about this, asking how you can shorten (reduce) parts of sentences, such as this one:

When Adam was studying in Vietnam, he ate rice for breakfast.

You can shorten this sentence by leaving out the subject (Adam) and changing the verb to an –ing-form (studying). The shorter sentence will be like this:

When studying in Vietnam, Adam ate rice for breakfast.

The longer and the shorter sentence are equally good. It’s just another way of writing. In the shorter sentence you need fewer words, so it’s more economic.

The clause “When studying in Vietnam” is called a reduced adverbial clause. Why? It’s a clause because it’s not an independent sentence. It’s adverbial because it describes when Adam ate rice for breakfast. (Adverbs are words that describe a verb). Other adverbial clauses may describe where, how, or why something happened.

waiting for doctor

Here are some more examples of how you can reduce clauses. (They’re all adverbial clauses, in case you’re interested.):

1 Longer sentence: While I was waiting for the doctor, I read a newspaper.

Shorter sentence: While waiting for the doctor, I read a newspaper.

You many shorten this even more to: Waiting for the doctor, I read a newspaper.

2 Longer sentence: When Vicky checked her email, she detected a suspicious message.

Shorter sentence: When checking her email, Vicky detected a suspicious message.

Even shorter: Checking her email, Vicky detected a suspicious message.

3 Longer sentence: Because Marco was a skater, he was always happy when the cold season began.

Shorter sentence: Being a skater, Marco was always happy when the cold season began.

Super short: As a skater, Marco was always happy when the cold season began.

 

Note: The adverbial clause most often comes at the beginning of the sentence, and it’s less common for them to appear in the middle or at the end of the sentence.

Example of this:

Longer sentence: My sister cooked while she was feeding the baby.

Shorter sentence: My sister cooked while feeding the baby.

 

One more note: the subject of the two phrases that you want to reduce need to be the same.

Have a look at this example:

Long sentence: While we were eating dinner, our neighbours called.

I can reduce this to: While eating dinner, our neighbours called.

But it’s not clear now who is eating the dinner. Our neighbours? Or someone else? The problem is caused because the first clause has “we” as the subject, and in the second clause “our neighbours” is the subject.

 

Now do it yourself!

 

Exercise

Reduce the sentences (make the clauses shorter).

1 Long sentence: When he looked in the fridge, he realized he’d run out of tomatoes.

Shorter sentence:

Even shorter sentence:

2 Long sentence: When she opened the letter, she understood it was for someone else.

Shorter sentence:

Even shorter sentence:

3 Long sentence: When I went to the park, I saw many people jogging.

Shorter sentence:

Even shorter sentence:

4 Long sentence: While we were eating dinner, we talked about our day.

Shorter sentence:

Even shorter sentence:

5 Long sentence: Before they knew it, they had wasted the next hour in an enormous traffic jam.

Shorter sentence:

6 Long sentence: After I opened the door, I was greeted by a familiar smiling face.

Shorter sentence:

7 Long sentence: While Oscar Wilde was in college, he finished first in literature.

Shorter sentence:

Even shorter sentence:

 

You can find the answers to this exercise at the bottom of this page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers: 

1 Long sentence: When he looked in the fridge, he realized he’d run out of tomatoes.

Shorter sentence: When looking in the fridge, he realized he’d run out of tomatoes.

Even shorter sentence: Looking in the fridge, he realized he’d run out of tomatoes.

2 Long sentence: When she opened the letter, she understood it was for someone else.

Shorter sentence: When opening the letter, she understood it was for someone else.

Even shorter sentence: Opening the letter, she understood it was for someone else.

3 Long sentence: When I went to the park, I saw many people jogging.

Shorter sentence: When going to the park, I saw many people jogging.

Even shorter sentence: Going to the park, I saw many people jogging.

4 Long sentence: While we were eating dinner, we talked about our day.

Shorter sentence: While eating dinner, we talked about our day.

5 Long sentence: Before they knew it, they had wasted the next hour in an enormous traffic jam.

Shorter sentence: Before knowing it, they had wasted the next hour in an enormous traffic jam.

6 Long sentence: After I opened the door, I was greeted by a familiar smiling face.

Shorter sentence: After opening the door, I was greeted by a familiar smiling face.

7 Long sentence: While Oscar Wilde was in college, he finished first in literature.

Shorter sentence: While being in college, Oscar Wilde finished first in literature.

Even shorter sentence: In college, Oscar Wilde finished first in literature.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s