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    spot Guest

    Default "After", a conjunction or an adverb

    In the following sentence "After killing the goose, the farmer gasped." Is "after" a subordinating conjunction or an adverb? If it is a subordinating conjunction and not an adverb, how do you explain and convince somebody who believes it is an adverb? Thank you.

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    Default Re: "After", a conjunction or an adverb

    Quote Originally Posted by spot
    In the following sentence "After killing the goose, the farmer gasped." Is "after" a subordinating conjunction or an adverb? If it is a subordinating conjunction and not an adverb, how do you explain and convince somebody who believes it is an adverb? Thank you.
    A subordinating conjunction introduced a clause. (Please note, a clause has tense)

    Conjunction: The farmer gasped after he had killed the goose.

    'after', a subordinating conjunction, introduces the clause 'he had killed the goose'; note, 'had killed' carries tense.

    If 'after' doesn't introduce a clause, then it's not a conjunction:

    Preposition: After killing the goose, the farmer gasped.

    'after', a preposition in form, heads the adverbial phrase 'After killing the goose'; note, 'killing' is not a verb.

    Both the phrase and the clause are adverbial: they answers the question, When?

    Adverb Test
    Q: When did the farmer gasp?
    A: After killing the goose. (adverbial phrase)
    A: After he had killed the goose. (adverbial clause)

    In short, subordinating conjunctions join clauses. So when in doubt, look for a tense-carrying verb.

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    spot Guest

    Default Re: "After", a conjunction or an adverb

    Thank you so much. It makes sense. Is there a test to see if a word is an adverb or not? In another word, if somebody insists that "after" itself in this context is an adverb and not a preposition, what can you say? Can you say that adverb stands alone?

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    Default Re: "After", a conjunction or an adverb

    Quote Originally Posted by spot
    Thank you so much. It makes sense. Is there a test to see if a word is an adverb or not? In another word, if somebody insists that "after" itself in this context is an adverb and not a preposition, what can you say? Can you say that adverb stands alone?
    Well, easily enough, an adverb, as its name states, adds to the meaning of a verb. That is, adverbs modify verbs, so for our example, if 'After' is modifying a verb, then it's an adverb, and if it isn't modifying a verb, then it's not an adverb:

    After killing the goose

    Question: Is 'killing' a verb?
    Answer: No. It's a gerund, a verbal noun.

    Question: How do we know it's a gerund, because, you know, it does look like a verb?
    Answer: words that end in -ing are not verbs. They are either present participles or gerunds, and only gerunds take objects:

    killing (noun, gerund) + the goose (object of 'killing')

    Moreover, gerunds, being nouns, act like nouns. They function as subjects and as objects.

    Subject: Killing the goose was tedious work.
    Object of the verb: Did you read Killing the goose?

    Nouns also function as objects of prepositions:

    Object of a preposition: Tell me about killing the goose.

    The same holds true for our example:

    Object of a preposition: After killing the goose

    The thing about prepositional phrases is that they always express Where and When, which is a tell-tale sign that the phrase is functioning as an adverb.

    Adverb Test
    Q: When did the farmer gasp? (Adverb)
    A: After killing the goose. (Adverb phrase)

    In short, every word and phrase has two levels of representation: (1) its form (What it looks like) and (2) its function (What it does in the sentence).

    The phrase 'After killing the goose' has the following representation:

    Form: prepositional phrase

    The phrase gets its name from the word that heads it. 'After' heads the phrase. We know 'After' is not an adverb: (a) it takes an object, and (b) that object is a noun ('killing').

    Function: adverbial phrase
    It answers the question, When?

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    spot Guest

    Default Re: "After", a conjunction or an adverb

    Thanks a million. It was a great help!!!

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    Steven D's Avatar
    Steven D is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: "After", a conjunction or an adverb

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    A subordinating conjunction introduced a clause. (Please note, a clause has tense)

    Conjunction: The farmer gasped after he had killed the goose.

    'after', a subordinating conjunction, introduces the clause 'he had killed the goose'; note, 'had killed' carries tense.

    If 'after' doesn't introduce a clause, then it's not a conjunction:

    Preposition: After killing the goose, the farmer gasped.

    'after', a preposition in form, heads the adverbial phrase 'After killing the goose'; note, 'killing' is not a verb.

    Both the phrase and the clause are adverbial: they answers the question, When?

    Adverb Test
    Q: When did the farmer gasp?
    A: After killing the goose. (adverbial phrase)
    A: After he had killed the goose. (adverbial phrase)

    In short, subordinating conjunctions join clauses. So when in doubt, look for a tense-carrying verb.
    A: After he had killed the goose. (adverbial phrase)

    Hi,

    Did you mean "after he had killed the goose" is a clause? I would call it a clause. It has a subject and a verb. Typo, right?

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    Default Re: "After", a conjunction or an adverb

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    A: After he had killed the goose. (adverbial phrase)

    Hi,

    Did you mean "after he had killed the goose" is a clause? I would call it a clause. It has a subject and a verb. Typo, right?
    Yes. Thank you. I shall edit it.

    Given my pre-cold state at the time, I am surprised I hadn't written,

    The goose gasped, after he had killed the farmer.

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    Steven D's Avatar
    Steven D is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: "After", a conjunction or an adverb

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Yes. Thank you. I shall edit it.

    Given my pre-cold state at the time, I am surprised I hadn't written,

    The goose gasped, after he had killed the farmer.
    I've typed things in error before that I certainly didn't mean and would not have said.

    It happens.


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