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In the sentence" It started to rain in the minutes after he left", what is "after he left"?
a subordinate clause? a relative clause?or is "in the minutes after" some kind of a big conjunction? It looks like a subordiante clause to me, but it seems to be modifying a noun (minutes), which a subordinate cannot (or can it?)...
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Hello Chikaine

I think you righteously guessed that the 'after...' modifies "the minutes" as an adjective subordinate clause.
Your sentence can be rephrased as follows.
In the minutes after he left, it started to rain
This clearly shows the AFTER-sub works as a modifier of 'the minutes'.

AFTER-subs usually work as an adverbial clause but sometimes it can work as an adjective clause.
(EX) On the day AFTER I started, my car got a flat tire.

paco
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thanks for answering my question...
I've understantood your answer but something disturbs me a little: we were told in class that an adjective subordinate clause began with a wh- word which "equalled" a previous word (ex : "the day when I began to study grammar", in this sentence when=day, we can say "the day I began"), but here, "after" cannot be replaced by "minute"s ans doesn't begin with wh-...
Hello Chikaine

I understand what you mean. As you feel this usage of AFTER-clause is an unusual one. If you take 'AFTER' as a relative, you would feel odd because there is no antecedent. But the 'AFTER' is not a relative, but it is a conjunctive that usually functions to lead a time-adverbial subordinate. I think you can wipe the oddness if you take your sentence as an ellipsis (shortened form) of;
In the minutes (that passed away) after he left, it started to rain.

paco
thats a pretty nice answer youv'e given me!!thanks! I must say I particularly like your vision of grammar!
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