On the Wikipedia page for 'Dependent clause,' on the subject of 'Dependent words,' there is provided an example which supposedly presents an adverbial clause, viz., "Wherever she goes, she leaves an item of luggage behind." In this case, "wherever she goes" is said to be the adverbial clause, "wherever" acting as the adverb. It is said that "wherever" is somehow an adverb which modifies "leaves." I don't understand how this is possibly the case. "Wherever," surely, is a noun.

The sentence can be altered in many different ways and maintain the same propositions. E.g., "In going wherever, she leaves an item of luggage behind." "Wherever" is the place that she is "going," and this first clause is certainly dependent, but I don't think that it is adverbial whatsoever; no adverbs exist in the entire sentence. "Wherever (noun) she (pronoun) goes (verb), she (pronoun) leaves (verb) an (determiner) item (noun) of (preposition) luggage (noun) behind (preposition).

Can someone explain how this is possibly an adverbial clause? It is mentioned that "wherever" modifies "leaves," but this is still a place that she is leaving a thing, not that she is leaving her luggage "wherever-ly."

  • After looking it up apparently "wherever" is an adverb--but that doesn't make any sense to me. "Wherever" is not a quality of a place, surely it is merely the consequence of the ambiguity of a place's location, but not the quality of that ambiguity. Or am I completely wrong? Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 21:33

2 Answers 2


“Wherever” is a fused relative word (a pronoun) meaning roughly “Any place that”. So Wherever she goes, she leaves an item of luggage behind can be paraphrased as Any place that she goes, she leaves an item of luggage behind, in which Any place that she goes is a noun phrase.

That noun phrase (with its embedded relative clause) functions here as an adjunct (or adverbial) of place. It doesn't modify anything, it's just a supplement providing additional non-essential information, and hence is semantically non-restrictive.

  • I don't think that the information is non-essential. Semantic value necessitates grammar that it might be properly expressed, not the other way around. "Wherever" is a supplement to the place, I wholly agree. In this it must be a noun, however, not a pronoun, given that it is not a person and that it, as a place, has never previously been mentioned. It also acts as a preposition unto itself. It is also representative of the quality of ambiguity of the place. In this latter sense, it is adverbial. Why is it, then, with all of this information, that the entire clause is understood as adverbial? Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 22:27
  • @Andreievich Wherever can't be a noun because it can't take determiners like "a" or "the". It doesn't act as a prep at all.The NP is supplemental in that it is not tightly integrated into clause structure. Notice that it's set off with a comma; in speech it would typically be marked off by what is perceived as a slight pause. Thus the NP in your example has all the hallmarks of a supplementary (non-restrictive) adjunct. I don't like the term 'adverbial'; I much prefer adjunct.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 22:34
  • @Andreievich Incidentally, wherever is called a 'fused relative' because the antecedent and the relative word are fused together instead of being expressed separately as in simpler constructions. Thus in the fused wherever she goes, the meaning is comparable to the non-fused any place that she goes
    – BillJ
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 22:50
  • "She leaves an item of luggage behind wherever she goes." This requires neither comma nor pause but expresses the same meaning in so many words. "A place, wherever." "She, a girl." These additions are inherent to pronouns and prepositions, but may be unexpressed as much as one might say, enthymematically, A = C, because it is generally understood that A = B and B = C. The rule for pronouns is that a pronoun must represent a place mentioned elsewhere in a discourse, not one totally ambiguous. This can be the case with people, but the rule is clear on places. Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 22:53
  • 3
    +1 But I'm pretty certain that wherever is a preposition not a pronoun ... isn't it? Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 15:48

In the example

[Adv [Comp Wherever] she goes,] she leaves an item of luggage behind.

as I've indicated with the brackets, the phrase "wherever she goes" is an adverb that goes with the main clause "she leaves an item of luggage behind", but the word "wherever" is not an adverb. "Wherever" is the complement of the verb "go" -- it is not a modifier (so it is not an adverb).

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