Adjuncts

'Adjunct' is a word from the Latin that means 'join'. They are any elements in the structure of a clause that is not part of its core. Let's learn about them!

Intermediate
Adjuncts in the English Grammar

What Are Adjuncts?

Adjuncts (also called adverbials) are phrases that are not necessary to the structure of the clauses but add extra information or detail to them.
Therefore, they are optional, or dispensable which means if removed, they will not affect the remainder of the sentence.

Elements of a Clause

We have five main elements in the structure of a clause:

  1. Subject (S)
  2. Verb (V)
  3. Object (O)
  4. Complement (C)
  5. Adjunct (A)

Adjuncts in a sentence tell us where, when, why, how and for how long, an action has happened.

Marcus helped Bill in the restaurant on Tuesday.

Yesterday, Clara saw a ferret in the garden.

Every morning, the supermarket opens at seven o'clock.

I was late because the traffic was heavy.

Adjuncts: Forms

An adjunct can be:

He drove away quickly. (a single word)

The river was flowing quite quickly. (an adverbial phrase)

I always buy my groceries from the market on Main Street. (a prepositional phrase)

I'm going skiing next week. (a noun phrase)

I can still recall that day, even though it was so long ago.

Adjuncts: Types

Here are some major types of adjuncts:

At 9:00 AM, I watch the morning news.

The concert started just after midnight.

They sat around the bonfire.

The poverty is a major issue in California.

Collin visits her grandparents every week.

We have English lessons twice a week.

Camilla smiled happily.

The painting was drawn masterfully.

He didn't work hard enough.

He ran as fast as he could.

  • Reason Adjuncts (also called adverbs of reason)

She left the party because she was late.

Since it is raining, we cannot play outside.

Adjuncts: Positions

using adjuncts in a sentence

Adjuncts can appear in different places of a clause, depending on the sentence structure. They can come at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a sentence:

In my dreams, I saw a monster trying to kill me. (adjunct in the initial position)

The fox /quickly/ ran away. (adjunct in the middle position)

I went to sleep at midnight. (adjunct in the final position)

Adjuncts Vs. Complements

Adjuncts and complements are not the same things:

  • Adjuncts are not necessary, and add extra information.
  • Complements are necessary in order to complete the meaning.

Take a look at these examples:

He put the toys in the box. (complement)

The verb 'put' must have a complement saying where something is put. Without the complement (in the box), the clause would not be complete. We cannot just say 'He put the toys.'

I sat in a chair and started reading a book.

The verb 'sit' does not need a complement to complete its meaning. Therefore, 'in a chair' is an adjunct and can be omitted.

Adjuncts vs. Post-modifiers

The differences between an adjunct and a post-modifier are that:

  • An adjunct adds extra information to a clause.
  • A post-modifier gives us information about the noun.

I went to the café on 5th Street and ate a sandwich.

'On 5th Street' is a post-modifier and it is a part of the object noun phrase. It tells us which café we are talking about.

I went to the café at noon to have lunch.

'At noon' is an adjunct and it can be omitted from the clause without harming the complete meaning of the sentence.

Dangling Modifiers

Dangling (also called misplaced) modifiers are the adjuncts that are either placed too far away from the word or phrase they are modifying or too near to another word or phrase. When this happens, it can be ambiguous what they are modifying. Look at these examples:

Taking long walks frequently improves health.

In this sentence, it is difficult to tell if 'frequently' is modifying 'taking long walks' or 'improving health.'

Frequently taking long walks improves health.

If we place the adjunct in a better position, we can clarify the meaning of the sentence.

We drank the beers that we had brought slowly.

This sentence, for example, suggests that we brought the beers slowly.

We slowly drank the beers that we had brought.

Noun Adjuncts

A single noun can be an adjunct. It has become so common that it's hardly noticeable. Noun adjuncts (also called noun modifiers) are nouns that modify other nouns. It is sometimes a way of creating a compound noun.

Melissa made some chicken soup for dinner.

In this sentence, 'chicken' is the noun adjunct, and it modifies the word 'soup', creating the compound noun 'chicken soup'. If we left out 'chicken', only the meaning of the sentence would change, but the sentence would still be grammatically correct.

Tip!

Noun adjuncts can also create single-word compound nouns, as in businessman, where the word 'business' modifies the word man.

Adjectival Adjuncts

Adjectival (also called attributive) adjuncts are adjectives that come immediately before the noun they describe. We can remove them without compromising grammatical correctness.

Melissa played with her black kitten.

In this sentence, 'black' is the adjectival adjunct, and it modifies the word 'kitten'. If we omit 'black', it does not affect the grammar of the sentence.

The kitten that was black was playing.

However, in this sentence, 'black' is not an adjunct, it is integral to the grammar of the sentence.

Review

Adjuncts are words, phrases, or clauses that are added to other clauses or sentences to give more information. They can be easily removed from the sentence with no change in the meaning that is what makes them different from complements.

Look at the table below

forms types
single word time
adverbial phrase place
prepositional phrase frequency
noun phrase manner
adverbial clause degree
_ reason

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