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Explaining Adverbials with Examples

Published by at August 17th, 2021 , Revised On November 12, 2021

The adverbial is a unique sentence position that falls outside the scope of the common word ordering and sentence positions – outlined in this article on word order rules in English.

Adverbials are words or phrases used as an adverb to modify a clause or verb. In addition to adverbs, many other words and phrases can also be used as adverbials, including preposition phrases.

Examples of Adverbials Words

Angrily, here, gently, thoughtfully, harshly.

Examples of Adverbials Phrases

At the office, at school, in a few minutes.

In general, adverbials tell us how, why, when, and where something happened, but they have several other uses.

For example,

  • How – disguised as a beggar, with certainty, in a hurry, slowly, as a musician.
  • Why – Due to, because, to apply for the visa, land the dream job, for earning.
  • When – Tomorrow, during the afternoon, at midnight, when the plane took off when the train left.
  • Where – Here, there, outside, behind the wall, at the door, in the warehouse.

Adverbials can be tricky to master because there are so many ways you can use them in a sentence. Changing the position of an adverbial can change the overall meaning and focus of a sentence.

The Rules of Adverb Placement

The basic rule of thumb for an adverb (one-word adverbial) placement is to place the adverb before or very close to the thing it intends to modify.

For example,

“We will assign an expert writer to your order immediately” should be rephrased as follows if we aim to describe when “we will assign” an expert writer to the order. “We will immediately assign an expert to your order.”

As an exemption to the rule mentioned above, most one-word adverbials should follow transitive verbs.

For example,

She sang beautifully in the studio.

Dealing with adverbial phrases, which include prepositions (to the room beside the tv lounge).

Place the adverbial phrases before or after the sentence – more precisely before the subject or after whatever falls in the final sentence position.

However, these rules may not apply to several types of sentences. In most cases, the emphasis of a sentence lies at the end and its beginning, which means that you can include other short and less essential adverbials in the middle of the clause.

Examples

In the studio, she sang beautifully.

She sang in the studio beautifully. (Notice how “in the studio” becomes less important in the sentence).

She sang beautifully in the studio.

About Alvin Nicolas

Nicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.