If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Relative adverbs

Relative adverbs connect chunks of sentences together. Find out how that works!

Want to join the conversation?

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hey grammarians. Today we're gonna talk about three of the relative adverbs in English. Which is where, when, and why. And this over here is Peggy the dragon. And we're gonna use the story of Peggy the dragon in order to figure out how to use these relative adverbs. You may be looking at these words and thinking that they look an awful lot like question words. And you're right they are. These are questions words. But you can also-- so you can use them to ask a question like, where are you from? Because we use the word, where to figure out where stuff is in space. So you know, where figures out place. So Peggy could respond and say that is the cave where I grew up. And you can see that where, here is not being used in a question way. It's actually connecting the clause I grew up, to cave. And this is why we call this a relative adverb. Because the word, where, modifies the word grew. It's I grew up, where. And it also connects this whole thing to cave. Because where did peggy grow up? A cave. And it connects this whole chunk to the rest of the sentence. To the sentence being, that is the cave. We use the word, when, to ask questions about time. So if I ask Peggy you know, you're a dragon when did you learn to breathe fire? Because all dragons can breathe fire (whooshing) She would say, I learned to breathe fire when I was 10 years old. So again we're using this word, when, to connect these two ideas. When did she learn to breathe fire? When she was 10 years old. And technically, when is an adverb that modifies was. Finally, we use the word why to figure out reasons for doing stuff. So if something strange were happening in the countryside and I asked Peggy, oh mighty dragon do you know why it is raining fish? Peggy could say, I don't know why that's happening. So again we've go these two clauses that is happening, and I don't know. And, why, connects and relates them. And why is modifying is happening here. And there are other relative adverbs like while, is another way to say when. And whence, which is archaic and nobody really uses it but it's another way to say where. And if you're familiar with Romeo and Juliet from Shakespeare, you've probably heard the word wherefore. You know as in, "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father refuse thy name." Etcetera. And that's an old fashioned way of saying why. So we don't really say wherefore anymore. We don't really say whence anymore. But while, is another way to say when. Where, you ask about place. When, you ask about time. Why, is for reasons. These are the relative adverbs of English. You can learn anything. David out.