Conjunctions of Time

Conjunctions are English words that connect words or phrases. Sometimes we want to show a more complicated relationship between the ideas, like a relationship involving time. Some common time conjunctions are: when, after, before, until, since, while, once, as and as soon as.

  • I like to have the radio on while I study.
  • Before he plays football, James always does a warm-up.

In these cases, we use subordinating conjunctions. Subordinating conjunctions link an independent clause/main clause with a dependent clause of time.

Conjunction UseExample
beforeThe main clause happens earlier in time.She made her bed before she left the house.
afterThe main clause happens later in time.After I ate dinner, I went to bed.
until/tillThe main clause happens up to the time when
the dependent clause happens.
I’m not leaving until you say sorry.
as soon as

The main clause happens immediately after the dependent clause.Romeo fell in love as soon as he saw Juliet.

Once your grandpa gets here, we’re leaving for dinner.
whileThe main clause happens at the same time
as the dependent clause.
While Steve cut the onions, Jean peeled the potatoes.
whenThe main clause happens after the dependent clause, or at the same time.When he saw her, he smiled.

When I lived in Norway, I lived with a local family.
sinceThe main clause began at the moment
the dependent clause happened.
We’ve been friends since the second grade.
asThe main clause happens while
the dependent clause is in progress.
We got to the party as everyone was leaving.
during The main clause happens at the same time as the dependent clause.During the Alaskan winter, the sun is hardly ever seen.
whenever The main clause always happens as a result of the dependent clause.Whenever I see her, I smile.

Watch this video from Nick Shepherd to learn about several time conjunctions (or ‘linkers’) that are used to link clauses of time:

See also:

Conjunctions of Contrast

Coordinating Conjunctions

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