Let's suppose that you want to talk about when something happened or will happen, or that
you want to tell someone how to do something that must be done in steps and each of those steps
should be done in a specific order. In either of these two situations, you must use signal words
to help the person you are talking to understand the order of the process.
These signal words are called adverbials of time and sequence.
They are also sometimes referred to as time-order signal words.
Adverbials of time and sequence help us understand the time relationship between
sentences and ideas. Adverbials of time and sequence fall into two groups. The first
group consists of time expressions of more than one word. Time expressions of more than one
word generally introduce a sentence and are followed by a comma. Here's a list of the most
by + time
By seven o'clock, the theater was full.
at + time
At around three o'clock, the band walks through the door.
after + time
After five o'clock, the students go home.
before + time
They all arrived before noon.
after + noun
After about twenty minutes, I had to see her again.
before + noun
Before the movie, we went out for dinner.
during + noun
During the movie, the people kept talking.
The second group of adverbial expressions consist
of one-word expressions of sequesnce. These generally introduce a sentence and are followed
by a comma. Here is a list of the most common ones:
Time signal words are useful in many
types of narratives. Below are four paragraphs using time signal words.
Read the paragraphs and try to guess what they are talking about. The time
signal words have been underlined.
1. They're easy to make!
First, put some
of your favorite ice cream in a bowl. Then, pour two tablespoons
of chocolate syrup on the ice cream. Next, cover the ice cream and
chocolate with whipped cream. Finally, sprinkle chopped nuts on the whipped
cream and top it off with a cherry.
2. To get there go straight two blocks
and then turn right. Follow that street for two blocks. Look for a
tall gray building on the left. Then, turn left and go three more blocks
and it will be the blue house on the southwest corner.
3. The first thing you see is a
big map on the wall in front of you. Then, if you look to the right,
you will see a large sofa. Then, as you look around the room you
will notice a cute little plastic chair in the far corner.
4. I usually get up at around 7a.m.
The first thing I do after getting up is drink a cup of coffee. While I'm
drinking my coffee, I check my e-mail. Then, I eat breakfast.
After breakfast, I take a shower and get dressed.
Take the Quiz.