An adverbial is a term (an adverb), clause or phrase, which modifies (changes, modifies or adds to the meaning) of a verb. An adverbial can be a noun phrase (we ate that morning), a prepositional phrase (we ate in the canteen), or a clause (we ate because we are hungry) as well as an adverb, but always functions to modify the meaning of a verb. A sentence can contain an adverbial or more than one. Adverbials work to describe the meaning of verbs in a sentence.

To differentiate between an adverbial and an adverb, keep in mind that, an adverb can be an adverbial, barring an adverbial cannot be wholly just an adverb. You can say that the adverb is a sub-category of adverbials.

We typically use adverbials to talk about:

Where things happen (place):

  • She put her book on the floor.
  • Don’t just stand there!
  • Could you let the dog in?

When things happen (time):

  • They’re in France today, but where will we be on Saturday?
  • The rain lasted all day.
  • She’d been touring for four days.

How someone does things, or things occurs (manner):

  • You’re playing as if you were still a toddler.
  • These suits come in three sizes.

Types of Adverbials

The diverse types of adverbials incorporate the following:

  • Adverbial Complements
  • Conjuncts
  • Disjuncts and,
  • Adjuncts

What are Adjuncts?

An adjunct is a kind of adverbial, which is a clause, adverb/adverbial clause or phrase/adverbial phrase that can transform an adjective, an entire sentence or verb.

Adjuncts provide erudition on the main idea and meaning of a sentence barring will not alter the construction or grammar if left out. The sentence will yet be a complete thought and will not feel awkward. It is usually used to add information to a verb. When used as an adverb, it can indicate place, time, manner, reason,  frequency or degree.

Compare these examples:

  • I put my bag on the table.
  • Is wrong to say “I put my bag.”

[on the table is an adverbial: the sentence doesn’t have meaning without it]

  • He dropped my pen next to her seat and sat down.
  • He dropped my pen and sat down.

[next to her seat is an adverbial adjunct; the sentence makes sense without it]

Adverbial adjuncts can provide extra information about:

Where things happen:

  • At low tide, you can cross the bays on the beach.
  • The students were playing in the office.

When things happen:

  • She can’t sleep during the day.
  • He visited his mates last week.

How things happen:

  • She found out how to do this by accident.

Why things happen or are done:

  • No one is turned away because of a lack of means.
  • I still send her a Christmas card each year for old times’ sake.

Condition (i.e. if this happens, then that happens):

  • James had left no letter for me to read in the event of his death.

Concession (i.e. even if this happens, still that happens):

  • Despite all their efforts, the dishwasher is still broken.

Degree (i.e. answering the question ‘how much?’):

  • I wouldn’t worry at all.

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