What Are Adjuncts?
Adjuncts (also called adverbials) are optional elements in a sentence that provide extra details. Their removal typically does not disrupt the basic grammatical structure of a sentence. The sentence remains grammatically correct, and its core meaning may still be understood.
Elements of a Clause
We have five main elements in the structure of a clause:
An adjunct can be:
He drove away
The river was flowing
I always buy my groceries from the market
I'm going skiing
I can still recall that day,
Here are the main types of adjuncts:
- Time Adjuncts (also called adverbs of time)
The concert started
- Place Adjuncts (also called adverbs of place)
The poverty is a major issue
- Frequency Adjuncts (also called adverbs of frequency)
Collin visits her grandparents
We have English lessons
- Manner Adjuncts (also called adverbs of manner)
The painting was drawn
- Degree Adjuncts (also called adverbs of degree)
The movie was
- Reason Adjuncts (also called adverbs of reason)
She left the party
While adjuncts can be removed without affecting the sentence's grammaticality, some adjuncts significantly may affect the sentence's meaning. Frequency Adjuncts (e.g., "never," "always", ''rarely") and degree adjuncts (e.g., "enough," "too") can alter a sentence's meaning when added or removed. Here are some examples:
She didn't try hard
Adjuncts can appear in different positions within a clause, depending on the sentence structure. They can come at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a sentence. For example:
I went to sleep
Adjuncts Vs. Complements
Adjuncts and complements are not the same things:
- Adjuncts are not necessary, and add extra information to the sentence.
- Complements are necessary in order to complete the meaning of the sentence.
Take a look at the examples:
He put the toys
The verb 'put' must have a complement indicating a place. Without the complement (in the box), the clause would not be complete. We cannot just say 'He put the toys.'
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 information about the noun.
I went to the café
'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' is an adjunct and it can be omitted from the clause without harming the overall meaning of the sentence.
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 close to another word or phrase. In such cases, it can be unclear what the adjunct is modifying. Look at these examples:
Taking long walks
In this sentence, it is difficult to tell if 'frequently' is modifying 'taking long walks' or 'improving 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
This sentence suggests that we brought the beers slowly.
A single noun can be an adjunct. Noun adjuncts (also called noun modifiers) are nouns that modify other nouns. It is sometimes used as a way of creating a compound noun. For example:
Melissa made some
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.
Noun adjuncts can also create single-word compound nouns, as in businessman, where the word 'business' modifies the word man.
Adjectival (also called attributive) adjuncts are adjectives that come immediately before the noun they describe. We can remove them without compromising grammatical correctness. For example:
Melissa played with her
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
However, in this sentence, 'black' is not an adjunct, it is integral to the meaning of the sentence.