Adverbial Phrases

Adverbial phrases are made of two or more words and are used as the adverb of the sentence. In this lesson, you will get to know phrasal verbs.

"Adverbial Phrases" in the English Grammar

What Is an Adverbial Phrase?

To put it in the simplest way, adverbial phrases are similar to adverbs: they add more information to the sentence, but an adverb can be a single word, like 'now,' 'slowly', or 'well.' However, adverbial phrases are made up of multiple words.

Adverbial Phrases: Structure

Some adverbial phrases can be made with prepositions, others made with infinitives or with intensifiers.

Adverbial Phrases Made with Prepositions

Adverbial phrases can be made with most kinds of prepositions. Take a look at some examples:

In summer, we often slept under the stars.

Note that 'under the star' is a prepositional phrase that uses the preposition 'under' and the object 'stars.' In this case, the prepositional phrase functions as an adverb in the sentence. Since it modifies the verb, it is both a prepositional phrase and an adverbial phrase.

I arrived in Colorado in the early afternoon.

Adverbial Phrases Made with Infinitives

Some adverbial phrases can be made with the infinitive form of a verb. Most of these phrases express purpose. Take a look at these examples:

She stepped outside to breathe in some fresh air.

I left early to catch the plane.

Adverbial Phrases Made with Intensifiers

Another kind of adverbial phrase is made with an intensifier e.g., 'very,' 'extremely,' 'really.' Take a look at these examples:

The traffic's moving very slowly this morning.

He walks really slowly.

Adverbial Phrases: Functions

Adverbial phrases can describe 'how,' 'when,' why,' 'where' or 'how often' a verb is done, though they can also have other uses.

using an adverbial phrase in a sentence

Adverbial Phrases Describing When

Adverbial phrases of time describe when something happens or how often. For example:

When = The bats hunt in the middle of the night.

How often = The bats most usually navigate with high-frequency sounds.

Adverbial Phrases Describing Why

Adverbial phrases of reason describe why something is done. For example:

Why = The bats hung upside down to hibernate.

Adverbial Phrases Describing Where

Adverbial phrases of place describe where something happens. For example:

Where = The bats live in the heart of caves and tunnels.

Adverbial Phrases Describing How

Adverbial phrases of manner describe how something is done. For example:

How = The bats fly very quickly.

Adverbial Phrases: Position in a Sentence

Adverbials are normally put after the main verb.

The shop has been closed for the last few days.

In case the verb has an object or complement, put the adverbial after the object or complement.

She baked the cake on Christmas Eve.

We visited our grandparents last weekend.

If you want to emphasize an adverbial, you can put it at the beginning of a clause.

On Christmas Eve, she baked the cake.

Adverbial Phrase vs. Adverbial Clause

An adverbial phrase is a phrase that functions as an adverb.
An adverbial clause is a dependent clause that functions as an adverb.
A clause has both a subject and a predicate, while a phrase does not.

An adverbial phrase: The game will take place in the morning.

(A phrase does not contain a subject and a verb.)

An adverbial clause: The game will take place when both teams are ready.

(A clause contains a subject "both teams" and a verb "are.")

An adverbial phrase: The scene was filmed near the bridge.

An adverbial clause: The scene was filmed where the bridge crosses the river.

(In this clause, the subject is "the bridge" and the verb is "crosses.")


Adverbial phrases are made of multiple adverbs and give more information about the sentence. They are made of prepositions, infinitives, or intensifiers. They are placed:

  • after the main verb
  • after the object or complement
  • at the beginning of a clause to emphasize


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Adjective Phrases

Phrases are two or more words that can function as specific parts of speech. Adjective phrases are groups of words that function as adjectives.


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Infinitive Phrases

Infinitive phrases are phrases that look like infinitives but they are used in special positions.


A clause is a group of words that has a subject and a predicate. In this lesson, we will discuss clauses in English grammar.

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