Adverbial Phrases

Introduction to Adverbial Phrases

An adverbial phrase is a group of words that functions as an adverb in a sentence. This means that an adverbial phrase modifies a verb, adjective, or adverb within the sentence – giving us more information about time, place, manner, purpose, condition, or result. Knowing how to correctly use them will help you in refining your writing and articulating complex thoughts more effectively.

Structure of Adverbial Phrases

Usually, an adverbial phrase will consist of an adverb (known as the head) and any other associated words. The other words are usually prepositional phrases or clauses, but can also be other adverbs or adverbial phrases. The structure can be illustrated as follows:

Adverb + Other Words (optional)

For example:

  • "He drove very quickly". Here, 'very' modifies the adverb 'quickly' to form the adverbial phrase.
  • "She waits at the bus stop". The prepositional phrase 'at the bus stop' functions as an adverbial phrase, telling us where she waits.
  • Types of Adverbial Phrases

    Adverbial Phrases of Time

    These types of adverbial phrases tell us when something happened. Common phrases of time include 'in the morning', 'last year', 'today' and 'soon'.


  • "We will go to the park in the afternoon".
  • Adverbial Phrases of Place

    These types of adverbial phrases tell us where something happened. They typically include a preposition, a noun or a pronoun. For example: 'in the kitchen,' 'up the stairs,' 'here', etc.


  • "She found her ring under the couch".
  • Adverbial Phrases of Manner

    These types of adverbial phrases describe how something happened or was done. They are usually placed after the main verb or object. For example: 'with a smile,' 'lovingly', 'happily' etc.


  • "He completed his work with great effort".
  • Adverbial Phrases of Frequency

    These adverbial phrases tell us how often something occurs. For example: 'every day,' 'once in a blue moon,' 'occasionally', etc.


  • "She visits her grandmother once a week".
  • Adverbial Phrases of Degree

    These adverbial phrases tell us to what extent or degree something happened. For example: 'almost,' 'barely,' 'nearly', etc.


  • "He almost won the race."
  • Adverbial Phrases of Condition

    These adverbial phrases express the conditions under which something happens. They usually begin with 'if,' 'unless,' or 'provided that.'


  • "Unless it rains, we will go for a picnic."
  • Placement of Adverbial Phrases

    Adverbial phrases can be placed at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a sentence. However, placement can affect the meaning of the sentence. Consider the following examples:

  • "With great enthusiasm, he accepted the award." – Starting the sentence with the adverbial phrase emphasizes the manner in which he accepted the award.
  • "He accepted the award with great enthusiasm." – Placing the adverbial phrase at the end is neutral and doesn't put particular emphasis on how he accepted the award.
  • Important Rules

    Adverbial Phrase VS Adverbial Clause

    An adverbial phrase does not contain a subject and a verb, whereas an adverbial clause does. Here is an example to illustrate:

  • Adverbial Phrase: "She left in a hurry".
  • Adverbial Clause: "She left when the bell rang".
  • Adverbial Phrase VS Adjective Phrase

    While an adverbial phrase modifies a verb, adjective or adverb, an adjective phrase modifies a noun. Here is an example:

  • Adverbial Phrase: "He drives too fast". 'Too fast' modifies the verb 'drives'.
  • Adjective Phrase: "His driving is too fast". 'Too fast' modifies the noun 'driving'.
  • Conclusion

    The proper use of adverbial phrases allows you to add more detail and enrich your sentences. Understanding the different types of adverbial phrases and their usage can significantly improve your writing and communication skills, making you more effective and efficient in conveying your thoughts and ideas. Always practice using adverbial phrases regularly to get a good hang of them.

    Leave a Reply