Hello, contributors.

Is the when clause an adjectival clause or an adverbial clause?

Then one afternoon when I was shopping at Diamantis Department Store, there he was standing in front of me.  (from: Fit for Fate: A Tale of Byzantine Intrigue in Modern Athens )

Hoping for your explanation. THANK YOU.

 

Original Post

Sunshine,

It's adverbial.  It tells us when he was standing there.

Consider the fact that all these variations are equally valid:

2: Then, when I was shopping at Diamantis Department Store one afternoon, there he was standing in front of me.
3: Then, when I was shopping at Diamantis Department Store, there he was standing in front of me.
4: Then, one afternoon, there he was standing in front of me.

(I started with (2) so that we can refer to your original example as (1).)

DocV

I agree with DocV, but admit that it is the presence of the noun "afternoon" before the "when"-clause that made Sunshine think of the possibility of the clause being relative rather than adverbial.

DocV's sentence (2) clearly shows that both structures, "one afternoon" and the "when"-clause, are adverbial -- if the clause were relative, changing the order, that is, placing "one afternoon" after the clause, would not be possible.

Rather than syntax, I think it is semantics, i.e. the strong adverbial value of both structures, that makes us decide that the clause is adverbial. In these two sentences I found on the Internet the order cannot be changed, but a comma could be placed between "afternoon" and "when," which shows they are two independent adverbials:

- I started writing one afternoon(,) when I was twenty.
One afternoon(,) when I was 9, my dad told me I'd be skipping school the next day.

In apparently similar constructions, with a time noun followed by a "when"-clause, the clause will be interpreted as relative if the time noun does not work as an adverb. In this case, the order cannot be changed AND no comma can be inserted after the noun (I found the sentences below on the Internet):

- I remember one afternoon when I felt extremely dejected and quite frankly frustrated that I didn't know how to move forward ...
- I remember vividly one afternoon when you called me into your office ...

Although "when" is more idiomatic, in both of the cases above it could be replaced with "on which."

Doc V posted:

Sunshine,

It's adverbial.  It tells us when he was standing there.

Consider the fact that all these variations are equally valid:

2: Then, when I was shopping at Diamantis Department Store one afternoon, there he was standing in front of me.
3: Then, when I was shopping at Diamantis Department Store, there he was standing in front of me.
4: Then, one afternoon, there he was standing in front of me.

(I started with (2) so that we can refer to your original example as (1).)

DocV

Thank you very much, DocV. It really helps.

Gustavo, Contributor posted:

I agree with DocV, but admit that it is the presence of the noun "afternoon" before the "when"-clause that made Sunshine think of the possibility of the clause being relative rather than adverbial.

DocV's sentence (2) clearly shows that both structures, "one afternoon" and the "when"-clause, are adverbial -- if the clause were relative, changing the order, that is, placing "one afternoon" after the clause, would not be possible.

Rather than syntax, I think it is semantics, i.e. the strong adverbial value of both structures, that makes us decide that the clause is adverbial. In these two sentences I found on the Internet the order cannot be changed, but a comma could be placed between "afternoon" and "when," which shows they are two independent adverbials:

- I started writing one afternoon(,) when I was twenty.
One afternoon(,) when I was 9, my dad told me I'd be skipping school the next day.

In apparently similar constructions, with a time noun followed by a "when"-clause, the clause will be interpreted as relative if the time noun does not work as an adverb. In this case, the order cannot be changed AND no comma can be inserted after the noun (I found the sentences below on the Internet):

- I remember one afternoon when I felt extremely dejected and quite frankly frustrated that I didn't know how to move forward ...
- I remember vividly one afternoon when you called me into your office ...

Although "when" is more idiomatic, in both of the cases above it could be replaced with "on which."

Thank you very much, GUSTAVO. Your explanation always is really reasonable.

The following sentences have a different order from that of those above. I wanted to know: what is your opinion about them?

When I was in high school, one morning I curiously took the family’s little digital camera out of the junk drawer and decided to go take some photos at the beach in front of my house.

https://au.oneill.com/blog-ove...f-muse-stella-crick/

 For example, when I was in high school, one morning, out of the blue, my dad quit his job as Chief of Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School. He was on a plane to Australia that afternoon and lived on the beach for the next year and a half writing his manifesto, 

https://www.psychologytoday.co...his-kids-development

 When I was in high school, one day I went to the nurses office because I wasn't feeling well. She told me to sit for awhile.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Jokes...ne_corps_took_a_new/

 When I was in elementary school, one day my grandmother took me into a store. The store had a check-out area in the front, a main center aisle, and rows of tall ...

https://www.farmingtonpres.org...o-share-their-faith/

 

This fear was problematic for her during the early years of her marriage: "When I was in high school, one day, in my friend's house, I saw a sexy movie. When I ...

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5653909/

 

“I remember when I was in grade school, one evening a week my dad would take me to the library. 

http://www.akronlegalnews.com/editorial/11010

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