Adverbial phrase

Adverbial phrase

An adverbial or adverbial phrase is a linguistic term for a single adverb or a group of more than one word operating adverbially, when viewed in terms of their syntactic function.

Compare the following sentences:

  • I'll go to bed soon.
  • I'll go to bed in an hour.
  • I'll go to bed when I've finished my book.

In the first, soon is an adverb (as distinct from a noun or verb), and it is an adverbial (as distinct from a subject or object). Clearly, in the second sentence, in an hour has the same syntactic function, but does not contain an adverb; so a preposition, an article and a noun can function together as an adverbial. This is an adverbial phrase. In the third sentence, we see a whole clause functioning as an adverbial. It could also be called an adverbial phrase, but is more likely to be described as an adverbial clause.

Adverbial phrases sometimes consist of a pair of adverbs. Extra adverbs are called intensifiers:

  • oddly enough
  • very nicely

An adverbial phrase can modify a verb phrase, an adjectival phrase or an entire clause.

See also

(Try leaving out the phrase and see how it sounds).

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