Adverbial Phrase - Learn What It Is and How to Use It with Examples

Have you already learnt what adverbs are and what phrases are? If you have, here is what you can explore next. Ever heard of adverbial phrases? Check out the article to learn what an adverbial phrase is, how it is formed, and how it can be used to make your writing and speech much more clear and informative. Furthermore, there are examples given in the article to aid you in better comprehension and usage of adverbial phrases.

Table of Contents

What is an Adverbial Phrase? – Meaning and Definition

Two or more words that perform the role of an adverb, when put together, can be identified as an adverbial phrase. Like an adverb, an adverbial phrase will also answer questions such as ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘how often’. An adverbial phrase modifies or provides extra information about a verb, a phrase, an adjective or another adverb in the sentence.

An adverbial phrase, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as a phrase that can be used for “adding more information about place, time, manner, cause or degree to a verb, an adjective, a phrase or another adverb.” “An adverb phrase or adverbial phrase is a group of words based on an adverb, such as ‘very slowly’ or ‘ fortunately for us.’ An adverb phrase can also consist simply of an adverb”, according to the Collins Dictionary.

How to Form an Adverbial Phrase?

To be able to form an adverbial phrase, you should know the different components that constitute an adverbial phrase. Take a look at the points given below to learn how an adverbial phrase can be formed.

Components of an Adverbial Phrase

There is no particular rule that an adverbial phrase should definitely contain at least one adverb. Adverbs can be a part of the adverbial phrase; however, there are some other components that constitute an adverbial phrase. They include,

  • Nouns – words used to classify a person, place, animal, thing or idea
  • Pronouns – words that substitute a noun
  • Adjectives – words used to describe a noun
  • Prepositions – words that describe the position of a particular noun or pronoun
  • Articles – words such as ‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’ used to determine the noun

Points to Remember When Forming and Using an Adverbial Phrase

You can easily form an adverbial phrase if you know how the different components that constitute an adverbial phrase can be used. Let us take a look at some points that you have to keep in mind when forming and using adverbial phrases.

  • The very first point that you have to bear in mind is that there can be more than one adverbial phrase in a sentence.
  • Secondly, remember that you can position the adverbial phrase in any part of the sentence according to its importance. You can place it in the beginning of the sentence if that is what governs the action done by the subject. In other cases, you can place the adverbial phrase at the end if that is just some extra information and does not drive the sentence.
  • As far as the punctuation is concerned, use a comma immediately after the adverbial phrase if it is placed in the beginning. If the adverbial phrase is positioned somewhere in the middle of the sentence, make sure you place the adverb phrase within commas or, in other words, use a comma before and after the adverbial phrase. There is no particular need for a comma or any other punctuation mark if the adverbial phrase is placed towards the end of the sentence.

Now, let us look at how an adverbial phrase can be formed. An adverbial phrase can be formed using the following combinations:

  • A preposition, an article and a noun
  • A preposition, a pronoun and a noun
  • An adjective and an adverb
  • An adverb, a preposition and a noun or a pronoun
  • A preposition, an article, an adjective and a noun
  • Multiple adverbs and an adjective
  • Multiple adverbs – one adverb describing another

A List of Words to Help You Form Adverbial Phrases

Here are some words (in bold) that will help you form and identify adverbial phrases easily. Check them out.

HOW

WHEN

WHERE

WHY

HOW OFTEN

In anger

Before sunrise

Right next to her

To console her

Every month

Like a snail

Exactly in three hours

At every signal

For a much-need break

Every now and then

Sincerely happy

Earlier than expected

By the store

So as to finish the work

Rarely

Very quickly

As soon as possible

Next to the play area

Owing to the extension

Annually

Somewhat sad

Even before the announcement

Around the main road

Due to her continuous efforts

All Fridays

A lot more sophisticated

Within a matter of a few months

In all major cities

Because of the heavy rains

As often as required

With a duct tape

After the lockdown

On this swing

In order to find out

Every few minutes

What Makes an Adverbial Phrase Different from an Adverbial Clause?

It is possible that you might get confused between an adverbial phrase and an adverbial clause as their functions are very similar. Take a look at the table given below to help you perceive the factors that make an adverbial phrase different from an adverbial clause.

Adverbial Phrase

Adverbial Clause

  • An adverbial phrase is just a part of a sentence that is employed to provide more information about the action done by the subject, an adjective, another adverb or even another phrase.
  • An adverbial clause is a group of words that gives some extra information about another clause and aids in the completion of the idea or thought being communicated.
  • An adverbial phrase need not necessarily have a subject or a verb.
  • An adverbial clause should contain a subject and a verb.
  • Examples:
    • In the spring season, travelling can be a pleasant and satisfying activity.
    • Unfortunately for him, it started raining the moment he left home.
  • Examples:
    • As soon as I reach the spot, I will give you a call.
    • She decided not to go to work tomorrow because she was too sick.

Examples of Adverbial Phrases

Going through a number of adverbial phrases can help you in comprehending the formation and usage of adverbial phrases in a much better manner.

Examples of Adverbial Phrases Referring to Time

Adverbial phrases referring to time answer the question ‘when’.

  • My mom was angry with me for getting home really late.
  • Around noon, we all had completed the tasks for the day.
  • My aunt told me that she will be coming to India in the month of September.
  • Until last year, Devi struggled to adapt to the city and its culture.
  • Everyone started losing their interest towards the end of the show.

Examples of Adverbial Phrases Referring to Place

Adverbial phrases that refer to the position or place in which the action is taking place answer the question ‘where’. Adverbial phrases of this type also include prepositional phrases which function like an adverb.

  • There is a new supermarket right in front of my house.
  • My father asked us to remember that he had parked the car right next to the overbridge.
  • We walked over the bridge.
  • Children play in the park.
  • Adults and teenagers are seen walking on the pavements.

Examples of Adverbial Phrases Referring to the Manner in Which an Action is Taking Place

Adverbial phrases that represent the manner in which an action is being carried out by the subject can be identified by asking the question, ‘how’.

  • Anand waited silently and patiently.
  • Luckily for my sister, she always got her way.
  • Everything went on surprisingly well.
  • The teacher asked the students to fill in the evaluation forms very carefully.
  • We were able to finish it quite easily.

Examples of Adverbial Phrases Referring to the Frequency of an Action

Adverbial phrases that refer to the frequency of an action can be identified by asking the question, ‘how often’.

  • Almost every year, we take a trip to the North.
  • Norah and her family visit her grandparents very often.
  • Manassa bakes a new set of cookies every week.
  • Only rarely do we get an opportunity to take a break and go somewhere.
  • Every alternate weekend, my friends and I get together for dinner.

Examples of Adverbial Phrases Referring to the Reason behind an Action Taking Place

Some adverbial phrases refer to the reasons why a particular action is taking place. This type of adverbial phrase can be identified by asking the question ‘why’.

  • Due to the sudden rains, we had to cancel our plans.
  • All schools will be closed for a week owing to the heavy snow storms.
  • To keep up with the developments in the field of technology, my brother read every single blog on the technological advancements around the world.
  • The little boy’s mother scolded him for breaking the glass bowl.
  • I went to Chennai just to visit my friend.

Check Your Understanding of Adverbial Phrases

Now that you know how an adverbial phrase is formed and the difference between an adverbial phrase and an adverbial clause, try working out the following exercise. Identify the adverbial phrases in the following sentences.

1. On the way to the hospital, I met my friend from school.

2. Owing to the pandemic, my sister’s batch was exempted from writing exams.

3. Saurab’s friends reached the hilltop exactly in an hour.

4. Probably, by the end of June, we can expect heavy rains.

5. The science teacher asked us to do our records neatly and carefully.

6. All of them did it exactly as informed.

7. All of a sudden, there was a fire in the building.

8. Throughout the year, the residents of the area faced difficulties with power and water supply.

9. The children were seemingly quiet.

10. Gautham’s friends could not make it to the wedding in time due to the traffic jam.

Check the answers given below to find out if you have identified the adverbial phrases correctly.

1. On the way to the hospital, I met my friend from school.

2. Owing to the pandemic, my sister’s batch was exempted from writing exams.

3. Saurab’s friends reached the hilltop exactly in an hour.

4. Probably, by the end of June, we can expect heavy rains.

5. The science teacher asked us to do our records neatly and carefully.

6. All of them did it exactly as informed.

7. All of a sudden, there was a fire in the building.

8. Throughout the year, the residents of the area faced difficulties with power and water supply.

9. The children were seemingly quiet.

10. Gautham’s friends could not make it to the wedding in time due to the traffic jam.

Frequently Asked Questions on Adverbial Phrases

What is an adverbial phrase?

Two or more words that perform the role of an adverb, when put together, can be identified as an adverbial phrase. Like an adverb, an adverbial phrase will also answer questions such as ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘how often’. An adverbial phrase modifies or provides extra information about a verb, a phrase, an adjective or another adverb in the sentence.

What is the definition of an adverbial phrase?

An adverbial phrase, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as a phrase that can be used for “adding more information about place, time, manner, cause or degree to a verb, an adjective, a phrase or another adverb.” “An adverb phrase or adverbial phrase is a group of words based on an adverb, such as ‘very slowly’ or ‘ fortunately for us.’ An adverb phrase can also consist simply of an adverb”, according to the Collins Dictionary.

What are the components of an adverbial phrase?

An adverbial phrase can contain,

  • Nouns
  • Pronouns
  • Adverbs
  • Adjectives
  • Articles
  • Determiners

Give some examples of adverbial phrases.

Here are a few examples of adverbial phrases:

  • All schools will be closed for a week owing to the heavy snow storms.
  • Every alternate weekend, my friends and I get together for dinner.
  • The teacher asked the students to fill in the evaluation forms very carefully.
  • My father asked us to remember that he had parked the car right next to the overbridge.
  • Until last year, Devi struggled to adapt to the city and its culture.

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