Adversative clause

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An adversative clause (from Latin adversus 'against' ) is a type of adverbial clause , and thus a subordinate clause , which expresses a contrast to the main clause in its statement . A descriptive term for this is also a confrontational adverbial clause. The introductory elements used include “during” or “where (towards) against”. The adversative clause is to be distinguished from the concessive clause: A concessive clause ("although ...") indicates that an incompatibility with the statement of the main clause would be expected, but has no effect in the given case; An adversative clause, on the other hand, describes a simple contrast between two comparable situations, the simultaneous existence of which can be expected.


  • "A ragout made from a leg of fresh meat can compete with the tenderness of a leg of lamb, while the consistency of a full-grown wild boar is reminiscent of that of a car tire."

It describes the contrast between the meat of young and old wild boars.

Introductory elements

Adversative clauses are often introduced by simple or compound conjunctions : while, (an) instead of that, (an) instead of (with infinitive), meanwhile. The classification of the introductory element where (towards) against fluctuates in the literature between conjunction and relative adverb .

A contrast that is equivalent in content can also be expressed using adverbs such as against, on the other hand , for example: “Dogs can swim well, but cats shy away from water. “The second part, which is introduced by the adverb, on the other hand , is a main clause (recognizable by the position of the verb in the second position ), even if it is attached with a comma. Since there is no subordinate clause, there is consequently no adverbial clause, so this construction is not an adversative clause in the strict sense. In such cases, however, one can speak of an adverse relationship of meaning between the two sub-clauses. Likewise, a subset of the next coordinating conjunction but is initiated adversative function, but does not form adverbial clause (z. B. "... but cats shy away from the water.")

Ambiguity of while

The conjunction during originally had a temporal meaning and denoted simultaneity. She then also developed an independent second meaning of opposites, with the result that ambiguities arise between the temporal clause and the adversative clause:


  • The sentence "While I am walking, my son drives the car" can be understood both as a temporal and as an adversative sentence, the exact meaning only becomes clear from the context; appropriate additives often also help.
  • “At the same time as I am walking, my son is driving the car” is clearly a temporal sentence of simultaneity.
  • “While I prefer to walk, my son prefers to drive” is interpreted more as an adversative sentence, especially when the word I is accentuated.


Duden. The grammar. 8th edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim 2009, ISBN 978-3-411-04048-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Adversative clause  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. So in the IDS grammar or the online grammar grammis 2.0 (without a separate heading under "Adverbial sentences")
  2. From: Duden grammar (2009), p 1094th
  3. The Duden grammar (2009) is contradictory in itself: on p. 629 as conjunction; on p. 1093 as a relative adverb. The latter is in line with the equivalent of the non-relative adverb against .
  4. Cf. Dudengrammatik (2009), pp. 1093f., Where various connectors are listed that have this content function in common, but belong to different parts of speech and construction types.
  5. Dudengrammatik (2009), p. 1094.