In the following sentence, "People eat garlic when it is raw or cooked." is "when it is raw or cooked." an adverbial clause or an adjective clause? The way I see it, this clause can either talk about garlic or eating. Adverbs answer "how" questions and "when" can answer "how."

Other examples that fit this model:

"Vampires leave their coffin when it's dark." "When it's hot, I drink cold beers." "You use a pen when you are certain." "I get a cough when it's cold."

Is "when" a word that can introduce two interpretations of a sentence, a sort of "wavicle" (to borrow from the world of quantum mechanics)?

  • Let's have dinner when it is ready. Is this dependent clause adjective?
    – user140086
    Oct 11, 2015 at 3:41

1 Answer 1


I believe that the clause "when it is raw or cooked." is used as an adjectival as it modifies the noun garlic ( The status of garlic is either raw or cooked , it doesn't modify the action of eating

  • I tend to disagree. The fact that the clause is introduced by when suggests to me it is adverbial, since it is qualifying the verb eat. However if I said People eat garlic which is either raw or cooked - it becomes adjectival since it describes garlic rather than eat. I may be wrong - I am a native speaker and have never been required to distinguish the adverbial fro the adjectival. It just comes naturally.
    – WS2
    Oct 11, 2015 at 9:25

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