What is an Adverbial Phrase?
An adverbial phrase is simply two or more words that work together to modify a verb. It’s a phrase that does the job of an adverb. Just like an adverb, adverbial phrases can also add more information to an adjective, or another adverb in a sentence. Adverbial phrases typically answer questions such as when, where, why, or how something happened.
Compare – Adverb, Adverbial Phrase
An adverb is a word that adds more information about place, time, manner, cause, or degree to a verb, an adjective, a phrase or another adverb
|quickly||She quickly got dressed and ran out the door to catch the bus.|
|loudly||He shouted so loudly that everyone in the room heard him.|
|well||She speaks English well, even though it’s not her first language.|
|always||I always listen to music while I’m doing homework.|
|never||She never forgets to say please and thank you.|
An adverbial phrase is a group of words that add more information about place, time, manner, cause, or degree to a verb, an adjective, a phrase or another adverb
Adverbial Phrases Examples:
|in the morning||She usually goes for a jog in the morning.|
|on the other hand||Working freelance gives me freedom. A full-time job, on the other hand, provides a stable income.|
|with great care||The nurse handled the fragile baby with great care.|
|from time to time||I don’t drink coffee, but I’ll have tea from time to time.|
|In a hurry||I need to finish this report in a hurry.|
Table of Contents
- Adverbial Phrases – Three Types
- Adverbial Phrases Of Time – Examples
- Adverbial Phrases Of Place – Examples
- Adverbial Phrases Of Purpose – Examples
- Adverbial Phrases Of Manner – Examples
- Adverbial Phrases Of Frequency – Examples
- Adverbial Phrases Of Degree – Examples
- Use Of Commas With Adverbial Phrases
- Adverbial Phrase Placement – Spoken English
- How Adverbial Phrases Can Help Your English Communication
- Adverbial Phrases Conclusion
Adverbial Phrases – Three Types
It may be helpful to look at the three different types of adverbial phrases. These relate to the grammar, or the types of words, that are used to make the phrase.
1) An Adverb Plus an Intensifier
“Theo ran very quickly down the stairs.”
An intensifier is an adjective or an adverb, for example so or very, that makes the meaning of another word stronger
2) A Prepositional Phrase
“She laid the baby down with great care.”
The prepositional phrase with great care is added after the adverb down showing HOW something was done.
3) An Infinitive Phrase
“I moved to Japan to study Judo.”
The adverbial phrase to study Judo is showing WHY something was done. It uses the infinitive form of the verb study: to study. *Infinitive phrases will typically answer WHY questions.
Adverbial Phrases Of Time – Examples
Adverbial phrases of time are groups of words that provide information about when an action or event occurred. Here are some examples of adverbial phrases of time:
In the morning/In the afternoon – indicates that the action took place during the morning/afternoon.
・I’d like to go shopping in the morning. The stores get too busy in the afternoon.
・She always drinks coffee in the morning.
At noon – indicates that the action took place at noon. [12:00 PM]
・Our lunch reservation is at 12:15. Let’s meet in front of the restaurant at noon.
After lunch – indicates that the action took place following a meal in the middle of the day.
・I always get sleepy after lunch.
Before dawn – indicates that the action took place prior to the break of day.
・The best time to go fishing is before dawn. That’s when the fish are biting.
During the night – indicates that the action took place throughout the nighttime hours.
・I heard some strange sounds during the night. I didn’t sleep very well.
On the weekend – indicates that the action took place over a Saturday and/or Sunday.
・Not many people like to work on the weekend. It’s a chance to relax and spend time with friends and family.
Throughout the day – indicates that the action took place during the entire day.
・It’s important to drink water throughout the day so you don’t get dehydrated.
Adverbial Phrases Of Place – Examples
Adverbial phrases of place are groups of words that provide information about where an action or event occurred. Here are some examples of adverbial phrases of place:
In the park – indicates that the action took place within a park.
・The kids are playing in the park.
At the beach – indicates that the action took place at a beach.
・At the beach, we can build a sandcastle, go swimming, or just lay on a towel in the shade and relax. IN the Shade or UNDER the Shade? (English Prepositions)
Inside the house – indicates that the action took place within a house.
・It’s a nice day, you kids should get outside. I don’t want you wasting the beautiful day inside the house.
In the classroom – indicates that the action took place within a classroom.
・In a Japanese High School, students eat their lunch in the classroom. There’s no cafeteria.
On the street – indicates that the action took place on a street.
・Unfortunately, there are many people living on the street. This is especially true in big cities.
At the store – indicates that the action took place at a store.
・I ran into Andrew at the store. We were both buying milk.
Outside the building – indicates that the action took place outside of a building.
・There’s a lot of garbage outside the building. Let’s organize a group to clean it up tomorrow.
Adverbial Phrases Of Purpose
Adverbial phrases of purpose are groups of words that function as adverbs and are used to describe why an action is being done or the purpose behind it. These phrases typically begin with words such as to, in order to, so as to, because of, and for the purpose of.
Here are some examples of adverbial phrases of purpose.
To improve his fitness – with the aim or purpose of enhancing his physical condition.
・To improve his fitness, Jack runs every morning.
In order to finish the project on time – with the specific purpose of completing the task within the specified deadline
・In order to finish the project on time, the team worked overtime.
So as to avoid traffic – with the intention of avoiding traffic.
・Sarah leaves for work early so as to avoid traffic.
Because of the risk – due to a risk or potential problem.
・Nicholas didn’t want to invest because of the risk.
To surprise her husband – with the intent of catching her spouse off-guard
・To surprise her husband, Lisa planned a special dinner with all his favorite foods.
In order to become a doctor – with the specific aim of achieving the profession of a physician.
・In order to become a doctor, Colin studied hard in college.
So as to make a good impression – with the intention of leaving a favorable impact on others.
・So as to make a good impression, Clayton wore his nicest suit to the job interview.
For the purpose of raising money for charity – with the goal of generating funds for a noble cause.
・For the purpose of raising money for charity, the school organized a huge bake sale. All 300 students were involved.
Adverbial Phrases Of Manner – Examples
Adverbial phrases of manner are groups of words that provide information about how an action or event occurred. Here are some examples of adverbial phrases of manner:
With great care – indicates that the action was performed with a lot of care and attention to detail.
・The nurse handled the newborn baby with great care.
In a hurry – indicates that the action was performed quickly and with a sense of urgency.
・I need to finish this report in a hurry.
Slowly and steadily – indicates that the action was performed at a slow and steady pace.
・With consistent practice, she improved her piano playing skills slowly and steadily over time.
In a friendly manner – indicates that the action was performed in a friendly and amiable way.
・The store’s customer service representative greeted the customers in a friendly manner.
In a professional manner – indicates that the action was performed in a way that was appropriate for a professional setting.
・The consultant communicated with the client in a professional manner, offering expert advice and solutions to their business challenges.
With great enthusiasm – indicates that the action was performed with a lot of energy and excitement.
・The crowd cheered for the home team with great enthusiasm.
In a relaxed manner – indicates that the action was performed in a calm and laid-back way.
・The yoga instructor guided her students through the poses in a relaxed manner, encouraging them to focus on their breath.
Adverbial Phrases Of Frequency – Examples
Adverbial phrases of frequency are groups of words that provide information about how often an action or event occurs. Here are some examples of adverbial phrases of frequency:
Almost always – indicates that the action occurs nearly every time.
・My wife and I love that TV show, it is one of our favorites. We almost always watch it together.
Very often – indicates that the action occurs quite frequently or regularly.
・I love that restaurant but I don’t go very often. It’s a little bit expensive and I’m on a budget.
Very rarely – indicates that the action occurs very infrequently.
・Lionel very rarely rides the trains during rush hour. They’re too crowded for him.
Almost never – indicates that the action very rarely occurs.
・I ride my bicycle everywhere I need to go, and I almost never drive my car.
Twice a week – indicates that the action occurs two times in one week.
・My boss lets me work from home twice a week.
Every other day – indicates that the action occurs every second day.
・In the summer I sweat a lot so I need to do laundry every other day.
Adverbial Phrases Of Degree – Examples
Adverbial phrases of degree are groups of words that provide information about the intensity, extent, or degree of an action or event. Here are some examples of adverbial phrases of degree:
Very slowly – indicates that the action was performed at a very slow pace.
・She spoke very slowly so that the non-native speakers in the audience could understand.
・The line at the post office was moving very slowly, it took forever.
Extremely hot – indicates that the temperature was extremely high.
・Tokyo is extremely hot in the summer. the humidity is also very high, which doesn’t help.
Somewhat tired – indicates that the level of tiredness is moderate. (The noun tiredness is made by adding the suffix -ness to the adjective tired.)
・Despite feeling somewhat tired, she pushed herself to continue studying until 2:00 AM.
Absolutely certain – indicates that the level of certainty is complete.
・I am absolutely certain that I left my phone on the table.
Partially finished – indicates that the level of completion is incomplete.
・The building is only partially finished, and they’ve already run out of funds.
Totally incorrect – indicates that the degree to which something is correct is zero.
・Her assumptions about the project were totally incorrect.
Nearly empty – indicates that the level of fullness is almost zero.
・The gas tank is nearly empty, we need to stop and fill up soon.
・The restaurant was nearly empty when we arrived, so we were seated right away.
Use Of Commas With Adverbial Phrases
Commas can be used to separate adverbial phrases from the rest of the sentence. Whether or not to use a comma depends on the context and meaning of the sentence. Here are some guidelines:
Adverbial phrases often require commas when they are at the beginning of a sentence, but not when they are at the end or in the middle of a sentence. For example,
Yesterday evening, we went to see a movie at the theater. This sentence requires a comma (,) after Yesterday evening.
We went to see a movie at the theater yesterday evening. This sentence does not require a comma because the adverbial phrase comes at the end.
In the middle of the night, I heard a strange noise. Comma.
I heard a strange noise in the middle of the night. No comma.
It’s worth noting that these guidelines are not absolute rules, and there may be cases where a comma is necessary or optional depending on the context and intended meaning of the sentence.
Adverbial Phrase Placement – Spoken English
There’s no change in meaning between these two sentences:
- I go for a 5K jog every morning.
- Every morning, I go for a 5K jog.
Where we place the adverbial phrase in our sentence can be related to the topic of conversation or what we are responding to.
Here are a few examples.
A: Sophia you’re always in such great shape. What’s your secret?
S: Thanks Aaron, I go for a 5K jog every morning.
Aaron’s question feels more exercise focused so we might start our reply with “a 5K jog.”
A: I heard you are an avid jogger Sophia. How often do you run?
S: Every morning, I go for a 5K jog.
Aaron’s question is more focused on frequency this time. Here “every morning“ is a natural way to start your response.
*NOTE* This is absolutely not a rule! For simple sentences like our two examples above, either response is perfectly fine.
How Adverbial Phrases Can Help Your English Communication
Adverbial phrases are important in writing and verbal communication because they provide additional information about the circumstances, manner, or time of an action or event. Here are a few ways in which adverbial phrases can be useful:
Clarifying meaning: Adverbial phrases help to clarify the meaning of a sentence by providing specific details about how, when, where, or why something happened. Without adverbial phrases, sentences may be ambiguous or unclear.
Adding variety and interest: Using adverbial phrases can make your writing more interesting and engaging by adding variety and descriptive details. Adverbial phrases can help paint a more vivid picture of the described action or event.
Creating a smooth flow: Adverbial phrases can help to connect ideas and create a smooth flow in your story. They can signal shifts in time, location, or perspective and help your audience follow along.
Adverbial Phrases Conclusion
Adverbial phrases are an important part of communication that provide more information about the verb in a sentence.
- They can describe time, place, manner, frequency, or degree.
- They can help to add detail and clarity to a sentence, making it easier for the audience to understand the intended message.
- Adverbial phrases can also help to create a vivid picture in the audience’s mind and convey a particular tone or mood.
Can you think of any important points relating to Adverbial Phrases that I forgot? Please tell me in the comments.
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