Adverbial Clauses

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The structure of adverbial clauses in Sereer is varied. At least four different patterns are evident, but future work is likely to reveal more, as these patterns have not yet been fully studied in a systematic manner. Adverbial clause types currently attested in Serrer include: reason clauses (‘because X’, ‘in order to X’, etc.), temporal adverbial clauses (‘before X’, ‘after X’, etc.), conditional/sequential clauses (“if/when X”), and a possible nominalized adverbial clause type.

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Reason Clauses

Reason clauses are formed by simply connecting two clauses with the word ‘’’yam’’’ “because”. The clause following ‘’’yam’’’ is the reason or purpose for the first clause, as in (1)-(3). It is not known if the Main Clause – Subordinate Clause order can be inverted.

  1. ret’ee nombudna yam ajaweega jaw
    ret -‘ -ee nombudna yam a- jaw –eeg –a jaw go -PST -NEG party because 3SG- cook -PST.PROG –FV cook
    \She didn’t go to the party because she was cooking (081)
  1. jaw’ee cu’ax yam abuga ret nombudna
    jaw –‘ –ee cu’ax yam a- bug –a ret nombudna cook –PST –NEG dinner because 3SG- want –FV go party
    \She didn’t cook dinner because she wanted to go to the party. (081)
  1. adeena yam abuga jaw
    a- deen –a yam a- bug –a jaw 3SG- make.fire –FV because 3SG- want –FV cook
    \She makes a cooking fire because she wants to cook. (081)


Temporal Adverbial Clauses

Temporal adverbial clauses, also called temporal clause-linking constructions, are formed by two clauses that are connected with a temporal adverb. In Sereer, temporal markers can serve to link two verbal clauses, are will as NPs. The latter construction is discussed in Adpositions, while the former will be discussed here.

The currently attested types of temporal adverbial clauses are listed in the Table below. More work will determine what other temporal clause-linking strategies there are. As shown in Examples (4), (5), the second clause in these construction is always somehow marked as a subordinate clause, either with a relativizer -na as in (5) or by use of the subordinate subject agreement markers.


Tempora Clause-linkers
Gloss Adposition Source Notes, Example Sentences
before bala ~ balaa VW_054, VW_167
after acinj VW_068 also locative "behind"
after ye VW_167
when, while ye, yaa VW_167
until bo VW_167
during na VW_068 also locative "in"


  1. faak oyeng gimam balaa nɗaana
    faak oyeng gim -am balaa n- ɗaan -a yesterday night sing -1S before 1S- sleep -NPT
    'Last night I sang before sleeping (167)'


  1. oɓox ole woxa yii yaa te ga'na muus ne
    oɓox ole woxa yii yaa te ga' -na muus ne god DET bark PROG when 3S see -RLVZR cat DET
    'The dog barks when he sees the cat. (167)'

Conditional and Sequential Clauses

Conditional clauses can be formed with the suffix "-aŋa", as in (6).

  1. adeɓaŋa xan ajaw
    a- deɓ -aŋa xan a- jaw 3SG- rain –COND FUT 3SG-cook
    \If it rains, she will cook. (082)

These clauses also have the interpretation of “when. . .” or “as soon as. . .”. They Take subject marking prefixes, as in (7), but they do not appear to take any tense/aspect morphology.

  1. osugaŋa ofees
    o- sug –aŋa o- fees 2SG- pound.millet –COND/SEQ 2SG- winnow
    \After pounding (it), you winnow (it). (Millet text)

Derivational morphology, however, may appear with ‘’’-aŋa’’’, as in (8)

  1. xan ajaw afadiidaŋa
    xan a- jaw a- fad –iid -aŋa FUT 3SG-cook 3SG- return –DIR.toward –COND/SEQ
    \As soon as she arrives/ If she arrives, she will cook (dinner). (081)

Nominalized Adverbial Clauses

A fourth type of adverbial clause that is still very poorly understood appears to be nominalized (see Relative Clauses) and involves a complementizer. The sole example of this that I have encountered is given in (9). There is no subject agreement, and the verb appears to be relativized.

  1. ajaw’a acu’ax yete gatna no marse
    a- jaw -’ –a acu’ax yete gat -na no marse 3SG-cook –PST –FV dinner COMPLTZR.3SG arrive –RELVZR at market
    \She cooked dinner when she came home from the market. (081)
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