Using the word “When” in complex sentences

When - Grammar

Use of “when” in practice: rules, examples

The common word “when” can be used in various contexts in complex sentences in English to indicate temporal relationships between events or actions. Accordingly, it is important to understand how to use it correctly to express time in the language. In most cases, “when” is a conjunction used to connect parts of a complex sentence. The word “when” indicates the time or circumstances under which the main clause’s action takes place. For example:

  • I will call you when I get home. (I will call you when I get home.)
  • He was happy when he saw his family. (He was happy when he saw his family.)

A subordinate clause of time with the conjunction “when” can stand both before and after the main clause. If it stands before the main clause, a comma should separate them. If it stands after, a comma is not needed. For example:

  • When I finish this book, I will lend it to you. (When I finish this book, I will lend it to you.)
  • She went to bed early when she felt sick. (She went to bed early when she felt sick.)

The word “when” can also be used to form conditional sentences describing hypothetical situations, often using an “if-then” structure. In such sentences, one part is only true on the condition that the other part is true. For example:

  • If you study hard, you will pass the exam when you take it. (If you study hard, you will pass the exam when you take it.)
  • I would buy a car when I have enough money. (I would buy a car when I have enough money.)

In this article, we will briefly recall the main grammar material, the use of “when”, and at the end it is suggested to perform an exercise of 20 questions to test and consolidate knowledge.

Using “When” in Complex Sentences

  1. Expressing time:

    • “When” is used to indicate a point in time or period of time when a particular action or event takes place. For example: “I always relax when I come home”.
  2. Temporal relationships:

    • “When” indicates a temporal relationship between two events in a complex sentence. It shows that the second event happens at the time when the first event takes place. For example: “She left the house when the sun rose”.

In addition to expressing time, “when” can also indicate temporal relationships and sequences between events.

  1. Possibility of using with other tenses:

    • “When” can be used with any tense like Present Simple, Past Simple, Present Continuous, Future Simple etc. This depends on when exactly the described events take place.

    • Some examples:

      • “When I come, he is always working”
      • “I was watching TV when she called”
      • “When will you finish this project?”
  2. Expressing sequence of events:

    • “When” indicates the chronological order of events, showing that the second event happens right after the first one.

    • Examples:

      • “I will call you when I finish my work”
      • “They will start eating when everyone arrives”
  3. Use in questions:

    • “When” is used in questions to request information about the time or moment of a particular action:

      • “When will the train arrive?”
      • “When did you last see him?”
  4. Difference Between “When” and “While”:

    • “While” unlike “when” denotes actions happening in parallel.
    • “While” is also more often used with Continuous tenses.
    • Example: “I was reading a book while she was watching TV”.

Knowing these features of “When” will help you use this word properly in complex sentences and solve tasks where you need to determine correct temporal relationships between events.

Using verb tenses and the conjunction “when” in complex sentences

Verb Tenses:

  1. Present Simple:

    • Used for general facts, habitual actions and universal truths. E.g. “I work in an office.”
    • Example with “when”: “When it rains, I stay at home.”
  2. Present Continuous:

    • Used for actions happening at the moment of speaking or planned for the future. E.g. “I am working on my project.”
    • Example with “when”: “I am studying when you call.”
  3. Past Simple:

    • Used for actions that happened in the past and are not directly connected to the moment of speaking. E.g. “I visited Paris last summer.”
    • Example with “when”: “When she arrived, he left the party.”
  4. Past Continuous:

    • Used for actions that were happening at a specific moment in the past. E.g. “I was studying when you called.”
    • Example with “when”: “They were cooking dinner when the guests arrived.”
  5. Future Simple:

    • Used for future actions happening directly after the moment of speaking. E.g. “I will go to the party tomorrow.”
    • Example with “when”: “I will call you when I arrive.”

In addition to forming affirmative sentences, it’s important to understand the rules for negatives and questions.

Rules for Negatives and Questions:

  • To negate, “do/does/did” is added before the verb. E.g. “She does not live here.”
  • For a question, “do/does/did” is placed before the subject. E.g. “Does she live here?”

Word Order in Complex Sentences:

  • Usually: subject – auxiliary verb – main verb – other elements
  • Inversion example: “Never had I seen such a beautiful place.”

So, knowing English grammar basics helps to properly understand and use complex sentences with various tenses and conjunctions, like “when”.

Exercise – Using ‘When’ in complex sentences

When - Grammar

Practice. Using the word 'When' in complex sentences

When he ___ in London, it ___ heavily.

What ___ you ___ when your father returned?

When the woman was out a postman ___ a letter.

When the lesson ___ we ___ home.

What ___ you ___ when I ___ ?

Tomorrow when you ___ the sun ___ .

When I ___ that morning the sun ___ high in the sky.

When I ___ home my mother ___ me that my friend ___ me an hour before.

When I ___ him up they said that he ___ an hour ago.

When Harris ___ her she ___ Paris.

When my sister ___ at the college 2 years ago she ___ to learn several foreign languages.

It ___ when we ___ home.

I ___ still, when you ___ .

I hope it ___ when you ___ to London.

When you ___ me up yesterday it ___ hard.

When we ___ the beach the rain ___ already ___ .

When I ___ the letter I wondered what ___ .

I ___ to know when you ___ .

When we ___ in Seville we ___ sightseeing.

___ you tell him about it when you ___ him?

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