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?

Adverbial phrases are a group of words joined together that function as an adverb in a sentence, they modify verbs or other adverbs and provide more information about the time, place, manner, frequency, degree, or reason for the action or state described by the word they modify.

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 prepositions. In this case, the prepositional phrase functions as an adverb in the sentence, as it modifies the verb. It is both a prepositional phrase and an adverbial phrase. Take a look at some examples:

In summer, we often slept under the stars.

'Under the stars' is a phrase that uses the preposition 'under' and the object 'stars', and modifies the verb 'slept'.

I arrived in Colorado in the early afternoon.

Adverbial Phrases Made with Infinitives

Some adverbial phrases can consist of 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 which modifies the degree or intensity of the action or state described by the verb, e.g., 'very,' 'extremely,' 'really,' etc. Take a look at some examples:

The traffic's moving very slowly this morning.

The students studied extremely hard for the exam.

Adverbial Phrases: Functions

Adverbial phrases can provide information about the manner, time, reason, place, or frequency of an action or state described by a verb, although they may also serve other functions.

using an adverbial phrase in a sentence

Adverbial Phrases of Time

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

The bats hunt in the middle of the night.

Describing 'when' something happens.

The bats most usually navigate with high-frequency sounds.

Describing 'how often' something happens.

Adverbial Phrases of Reason

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

The bats hang upside down to hibernate.

Adverbial Phrases of Place

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

The bats live in the heart of caves and tunnels.

Adverbial Phrases of manner

These phrases describe how something happens or is done. For example:

The bats fly very quickly.

Adverbial Phrases: Position in a Sentence

Adverbials are normally placed after the main verb.

The shop has been closed for the last few days.

In case the verb has an object or complement, the adverbial phrase is placed after the object or complement.

She baked the cake on Christmas Eve.

We visited our grandparents last weekend.

Adverbials at the Beginning of a Sentence

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.
While an adverbial clause has both a subject and a predicate, an adverbial phrase has neither.

: The game will take place in the morning.

This is an adverbial phrase as it does not contain a subject and a verb.

The game will take place when both teams are ready.

This is an adverbial clause as it contains a subject "both teams" and a verb "are."

The scene was filmed near the bridge.

The scene was filmed where the bridge crosses the river.

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

Review

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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