The missing eyeglasses are in the refrigerator, where Damien absentmindedly set them down while eating his roommate's leftover fried rice.

Is the bold part an adjective clause or adverb clause? It seems to me that it's an adjective clause, since it's describing the place where he set the glasses down. What do you think?

  • It's an adverbial clause. Feb 17, 2017 at 3:31
  • Why would the fact that it's describing a place make it an adjective clause? Feb 17, 2017 at 4:12
  • 1
    @JohnLawler - Maybe because that's the function of the adjective clause? To describe things?
    – A.Cool
    Feb 17, 2017 at 18:39
  • 1
    It describes the refrigerator. Something that describes a noun is an adjective.
    – Barmar
    Feb 17, 2017 at 19:47
  • That's ridiculous. Everything describes something; verbs describes actions and events, nouns describe things, adjectives describe states and conditions, etc. "Describing something" is not a grammatical term at all, and has nothing to do with what an adjective is. Feb 17, 2017 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


You are correct. The bolded clause is an adjective clause. The clause, taken as a whole, is an adjective describing the noun "refrigerator."

An adjective clause is a dependent clause that, like an adjective, modifies a noun or pronoun. Adjective clauses begin with words such as that, when, where, who, whom, whose, which, and why.


However . . .

Are you sure that you're only identifying one clause? I ask because the bolded words could be taken as two, smaller clauses. If you're certain that you only need to identify the bolded words as one clause, you don't really need to read the rest of my answer. I'm just including the following because I wanted to give you as thorough an answer as possible.

The two clauses would be:

  1. where Damien absentmindedly set them down

  2. while eating his roommate's leftover fried rice

If you look at it this way, you actually have one adjective clause and one adverb clause.

Clause 1 is an adjective clause because it describes the noun "refrigerator."

Clause 2 is an adverb clause because it describes the adjective clause directly preceding it.

An adverb clause is a dependent clause that, like an adverb, modifies an adjective, an adverb, or a verb or verb phrase. Adverb clauses begin with words such as after, although, because, before, if, since, than, until, when, and while.


A group of words is usually only considered a clause if it contains both a subject and a verb. However, there are exceptions to that rule called "elliptical clauses." Elliptical clauses occur when the noun, the verb, or both are missing but clearly implied, like in Clause 2.

Clause 2 as is: while eating his roommate's leftover fried rice.

Clause 2 with implied subject and verb: while [he was] eating his roommate's leftover fried rice.

Clause 2 is an elliptical adverb clause.

An elliptical clause is a type of dependent, or subordinate, clause that is missing a word or words.


  • Thank you! I really got confused about the "where" part; however, you are right: I should have ony bolded the adjective clause; instead, I bolded both adjective and adverb clauses, haha.
    – A.Cool
    Feb 18, 2017 at 0:18
  • You're welcome! I'm glad I could help.
    – NenyaQueen
    Feb 18, 2017 at 0:28

I am commenting upon this question only because there seems to be no broad consensus about the correct answer as evidenced above. I am fairly certain that the clause under question is not an Adjective Clause (It does make sense to not bill everything that describes or seems to describe nouns adjectives everytime.) At the same time, I am not sure if it's an Adverb Clause either because it doesn't seem to be modifying any verb here.

I am tempted to bill the construction as a supplementary adjunct of sorts, which merely provides extra information about the Principal Clause The missing eyeglasses are in the refrigerator, without having any syntactic anchorage whatever to it. But then I realize this terminology, never mind the logic behind it, is well beyond my ken.

Anticipating a definitive answer to this question.

Could you please shed some light on this one, @BillJ? Apologies for notifying you like this.

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