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An adverbial phrase is a collection of words that jointly behave as an adverb. Adverbial phrases also called adverb phrases, modify other parts of speech—such as verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs—and other phrases.
In English grammar, adverbial phrases explain why, how, where, or when an event happened without using a subject or a verb. Instead, adverbial phrases often integrate multiple adverbs, as in the sentence “She sings very well.” Adverbial phrases can even use prepositional phrases, as in “I’ll leave in two hours.”
Types of Adverbial Phrases
In the English language, adverbial phrases can function as various kinds of modifiers:
- Intention (why): These adverbial phrases emphasize the sense of an event or action, as in the example sentence “To ensure they had a table, they made a reservation.” Here, “they made a reservation” is a whole sentence unto itself, and everything else before the comma—“to ensure they had a table”—acts as an adverbial phrase explaining the intention behind the independent or main clause.
- Manner (how): Adverb phrases explaining the manner of an event or action are often similes, as in the sentence “He ran like a cheetah,” or prepositional phrases, as in “I sleep in total darkness.” In the first instance, the simile “like a cheetah” modifies how the subject runs. In the second sentence, the prepositional phrase “in total darkness” changes how the subject sleeps.
- Time (when): A group of words describing time change when an event happens, as in the sentence “Grandma eats at six o’clock.” The adverbial phrase “at six o’clock” changes when the subject eats a meal.
- Location (where): Multi-word phrases can indicate the location of an event or action. In the sample sentence “He rents an apartment in New York,” the prepositional phrase “in New York” modifies where the subject rents his apartment.
Examples of Adverbial Phrases
Adverbial phrases can act as intensifiers, prepositional phrases, similes, and more. In the following mentioned sentences, different adverbial phrases show how, why, when, and where an action occurred:
- “He left his grammar book in the study.”In this instance, “in the study” is a prepositional phrase functioning as an adverbial phrase that shares where the subject left his book.
- “She plays piano well, but her brother plays quite well.”The first “well” is a single adverb changing how the woman plays; the second phrase includes two adverbs, “quite” and “well,” making it an adverbial phrase. Intensifiers like “quite,” “very,” “rather,” and “really” show the degree to which an adverb changes a verb.
- “During the performance, they crawled on the floor like babies.”The simile “like babies” changes how the subjects crawled on the floor.
Adverb Phrases Show How, Where, Why, When
A simple adverb phrase usually includes an adverb and at least one other word before or after it, though a prepositional phrase or infinitive phrase can even act as an adverbial.
Adverb Phrases Describing How
- Surprisingly well
- In total silence
- Often under duress
- Very carefully
- Quite easily
Adverb Phrases Describing Where
- Near the edge
- Through the looking glass
- Over the rainbow
- By the mailbox
- Around the sun
Adverb Phrases Describing Why
- To understand better
- For her happily ever after
- For pity’s sake
- To make the most of it
- To end discrimination
Adverb Phrases Describing When
- As quickly as possible
- Any time
- Yesterday afternoon
- After a few minutes
- Never at midnight
Adverb Phrase in a Sentence
Adverb phrases can be employed in any position in a sentence. View these adverb phrase models so you’ll know what you’re looking for:
- Bob nodded like a bobblehead.
- Meet me at the mall later this evening.
- Without thinking, he turned down the road.
- They must hug before sunrise to break the spell.
- She went online for more information.
- In the wild, many creatures snarl and growl.
- I will not do that, never in a billion years!
- Dad spoke softly to calm her fears.
- They have a cottage right by the ocean.
- She slammed the door in a huff.
- We will reconvene earlier than usual.
- Truly happy, I gave him my answer.
- He took some time off for a much-needed vacation.
- At every turn, problems blocked his path.
- I saw a lot of garbage beside the road.
- She decided to join a gym to get in shape.
- The cat came in for his bath, quite reluctantly.
- We strolled through the greens very slowly.
- He made his judgment as quickly as possible.
- Put the buds by the birdbath.
- Johan always reaches sooner than the other students.
- He flew the plane through the mist calmly and skillfully.
- So as not to disturb anyone, Mike tiptoed to bed.
- The tailor mended the hem with a needle and thread.
- Sometimes I don’t clean under the mattress.
- She performed the tasks without care.
- Come closer to get a finer look.
- Take this medication as often as required.
- The pledge was recited somewhat hesitantly.
- Helen needs to drive her new car much more carefully.
- To see the scenery, Tom climbed to the peak.
- The mystery texts were placed next to the crime dramas.
- The queue was moving frustratingly slowly.
- The march coursed around the town square.
- He runs five miles every day.
- The children opened their gifts with delight.
- This product is available in all areas.
- She responded very rudely.
- You ought to wash your hands better than that.
- He stood on this same spot and lied to me.
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