In grammar an adverbial is a word (an adverb) or a group of words (an adverbial phrase or an adverbial clause) that modifies or tells us something about the sentence or the verb. The word "adverbial" is also used as an adjective, meaning 'having the same function as an adverb'. Look at the examples below:

:"Danny speaks fluently." (telling us more about the verb)

Adverbials operate at sentence level as sentence elements, as in the example below:

:"Lorna ate breakfast yesterday morning". (SUBJECT + VERB + OBJECT + ADVERBIAL)

The form of adverbials

In English, adverbials most commonly take the form of adverbs, adverb phrases, temporal noun phrases or prepositional phrases. Many types of adverbials (for instance reason and condition) are often expressed by clauses.:"James answered immediately". (adverb):"James answered in English." (prepositional phrase):"James answered this morning." (noun phrase):"James answered in English because he had a foreign visitor". (adverbial clause)An adverbial is a construction that modifies, or describes, verbs. When an adverbial modifies a verb, it changes the meaning of that verb. Word groups that are also considered to be adverbials can also modify verbs: for example, a prepositional phrase,a noun phrase, a finite clause or a non-finite clause. [Biber at al. 2002 Student grammar of spoken and written English. ISBN 0 582 237270]

In every sentence pattern, the adverbial is a clause element that tells where, when, why, or how. There can be more than one adverbial in a sentence. In addition, the same adverbial can be moved to different positions in a sentence.

One way to analyze sentence structure is to think in terms of form and function. Form refers to a word class--such as noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and preposition--as well as types of phrases, such as prepositional phrase, nominal clause, and adverbial clause. Function refers to the function of the form in a sentence. For example, the function of a prepositional phrase in a sentence may be adverbial; that is, it modifies a verb.

Types of adverbials which form sentence elements

Adverbials are typically divided into four classes:

adverbial complements (i.e. obligatory adverbial): these are adverbials that render a sentence ungrammatical and meaningless if removed.

:"John put the flowers in a vase."

adjuncts: these are part of the core meaning of the sentence, but if omitted still leave a meaningful sentence.

:"John helped me with my homework."

conjuncts: these link two sentences together.

:"John helped so I was, therefore, able to do my homework."

disjuncts: these make comments on the meaning of the rest of the sentence.

:"Surprisingly, he passed all of his exams".

Distinguishing an adverbial from an adjunct

All adjuncts are adverbials, but some adverbials are not adjuncts.

* If the removal of an adverbial does not leave a well-formed sentence, then it is not an adjunct
* If the adverbial modifies within a sentence element, and is not a sentence element in its own right, it is not an adjunct.
* If the adverbial is not grammatically tied to the sentence it is not an adjunct, e.g.

:"Mr Reninson, however, voted against the proposal". (adverbial conjunct not adjunct)

Other types of adverbials

Directional and locative particles

"In", "out", and other prepositions may be used adverbially to indicate direction or location:

*Superman flew in (directional)
*Are you in? (locative)
*The car drove out (directional)
*The ball is out (locative)


In some models of grammar negators such as "not" and "never" are considered adverbs and their function that of negating adverbial.


Often ignored, expletives may take up many adverbial syntactic functions. Pragmatically and semantically, they often serve as intensifiers, boosting the content of the clause they appear in.

*What the hell are you talking about?
*I didn't bloody well do that!
*You're freaking lying!
*You bloody well know that smoking's not allowed here!
*He got sodding killed.

ee also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • adverbial — adverbial, iale, iaux [ advɛrbjal, jo ] adj. • 1550; bas lat. adverbialis ♦ Qui a le caractère de l adverbe. Emploi adverbial d un adjectif. Locution adverbiale. Adv. ADVERBIALEMENT , 1606 . ● adverbial, adverbiale, adverbiaux adjectif (latin… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • adverbial — ADVERBIÁL, Ă, adverbiali, e, adj. (Despre cuvinte sau construcţii gramaticale) Care are valoare de adverb. [pr.: bi al] – Din fr. adverbial, lat. adverbialis. Trimis de ana zecheru, 14.08.2002. Sursa: DEX 98  adverbiál adj. m. (sil. bi al), pl …   Dicționar Român

  • adverbial — (Del lat. adverbiālis). 1. adj. Gram. Perteneciente o relativo al adverbio. Expresión, frase adverbial. 2. Ling. Dicho de un sintagma: Que tiene por núcleo un adverbio. ☛ V. grupo adverbial, locución adverbial, modo adverbial, oración adverbial …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • adverbial — adjetivo 1. Del adverbio: funciones adverbiales, posición adverbial. 2. [Oración, sintagma, locución] que hace la función de un adverbio o tiene sus características: expresión adverbial, oración adverbial …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • Adverbial — Ad*ver bi*al, a. [L. adverbialis: cf. F. adverbial.] Of or pertaining to an adverb; of the nature of an adverb; as, an adverbial phrase or form. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adverbial — adverbial, ale (a dvèr bi al, a l ; au plur. a dvèr bi ô), adj. Qui a le caractère de l adverbe. Les suffixes adverbiaux. Locution adverbiale. Sagement est un adverbe ; avec sagesse est une locution adverbiale. ÉTYMOLOGIE    Adverbialis, de… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • adverbial — Grammar ► NOUN ▪ a word or phrase functioning as a major clause constituent and typically expressing place (in the garden), time (in May), or manner (in a strange way). ► ADJECTIVE ▪ relating to or functioning as an adverb or adverbial …   English terms dictionary

  • adverbial — [ad vʉr′bē əl, ədvʉr′bē əl] adj. 1. of an adverb 2. having the nature or function of an adverb 3. used to form an adverb [an adverbial suffix] n. Linguis. a word or word group that occurs in grammatical functions typical of adverbs (Ex.: the man… …   English World dictionary

  • adverbial — ADVERBIAL, ALE. adj. Terme de Grammaire. Qui tient de l adverbe. Il se dit de deux ou de plusieurs mots qui étant joints ensemble, ont force et signification d adverbe. À contre temps, sens dessus dessous, sont des façons de parler adverbiales,… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • adverbial — (adj.) 1610s, pertaining to adverbs; earlier it meant fond of using adverbs (1590s), from L.L. adverbialis, from adverbium (see ADVERB (Cf. adverb)). Related: Adverbially (mid 15c.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • adverbial — adj. 2 g. Da natureza do advérbio …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

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