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Time Clauses: Use of when, after, while, as soon as etc.

What is a TIME CLAUSE?

     Time clauses are preceded (introduced/followed) by adverbs or adverb phrases which show that they represent a time. Examples of these adverbs or adverb phrases are: whenbeforeafteras soon asuntil.

     Whenafterbeforeuntilsincewhileonceas and as soon as are subordinating conjunctions which can be used to connect an action or an event to a point in time.




She was in a bad car accident


she was young.

We can’t play loud music


everyone has gone to bed.

Brush your teeth


you go to bed!

I’ll wait with you


the bus comes.

I’ve been very busy


I started my job.

No one left the cinema


the movie was on.

I’ll call you


I arrive

We always have an ice cream

as soon as

we get to the beach.

I bumped into her


I came out of the bank.

     Many of these time conjunctions can be followed by -ing or -ed forms instead of subject + verb.

     We can use whenonceas and as soon as to talk about a specific point in time when something happened or will happen:

When we were in Greece, we went to as many islands as possible.

They always close their curtains once they get home in the evening.

As soon as we hear any news, we’ll call you.


     We don’t use will after conjunctions referring to future time:

When people walk into the room, they will feel something special.

Not: When people will walk into the room…

I will call you as soon as I get to the office.

Not: … as soon as I will get to the office.

     We use while to show that actions or events happen at the same time in the past, present or future:

Can you wait in the car while I run into the shop?

They were talking while the teacher was explaining the activity.


     We don’t use during instead of while. During is a preposition, not a conjunction, and it must be followed by a noun or a pronoun:

I like to have the radio on while I study.

Not: I like to have the radio on during I study.

We use the present tense to talk about future times.

     The future tense is used in the main clause.

     The present simple tense is used in the time clause.

     When two clauses are joined by adverbs of time or adverb phrases, the future form should not be repeated.

Tanka will turn off the lights when he leaves the office. (Not when he will leave).

Dad will reply to the letter when he comes home from work. (NOT when he will come home.)

I will tidy the living-room before I go to bed. (Not before I will go).

They will do the shopping before we arrive. (NOT before we will arrive.)

She will go running after it stops raining. (Not after it will stop raining.)

Amrit will write a review after he finishes reading the book. (NOT after he will finish reading the book).

I will not go home until I finish the report. (NOT until I will finish).

The nurse will wait until the ambulance arrives. (NOT until the ambulance will arrive)

Sita will call her mother as soon as she arrives at the airport. (Not as soon as she will arrive).

The operation will begin as soon as the patient is ready. (NOT as soon as the patient will be ready.)

Works Cited

“Conjunctions: time - Grammar - Cambridge Dictionary.” Cambridge Dictionary, Accessed 2 October 2023.

“English grammar: Future time clauses - when, as soon as, before, after, until.” Learn English Today, Accessed 2 October 2023.

Moore, Kirk, and David Araque. “Verbs in time clauses and 'if' clauses | LearnEnglish.” British Council, Accessed 2 October 2023.



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