Adverbial Phrases

What Are Adverbial Phrases? (with Examples)

homeglossaryAdverbial Phrases
Adverbial phrase is the term for two or more words which play the role of an adverb. Look at these examples:
  • I will sit quietly.
  • (normal adverb)
  • I will sit in silence.
  • (adverbial phrase)
  • I will sit like a monk meditates.
  • (adverbial clause)
    (When the multi-word adverb contains a subject and a verb (like in this example), it is an adverbial clause as opposed to an adverbial phrase.)
In the examples above, all the adverbs tell us how the person will sit. They are all adverbs of manner. When used to modify a verb, an adverb (including an adverbial phrase and an adverbial clause) will usually describe when, where, or how something happens.

When (Adverbial Phrase of Time)

An adverbial phrase of time states when something happens or how often. For example:
  • I'll do it in a minute.
  • After the game, the king and pawn go into the same box. (Italian Proverb)
  • Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day. (Albert Camus)

Where (Adverbial Phrase of Place)

An adverbial phrase of place states where something happens. For example:
  • I used to work in a fire-hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place. (Steven Wright)
  • Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of bleeding, he sings. (Ed Gardner)

How (Adverbial Phrase of Manner)

An adverbial phrase of manner states how something is done. For example:
  • He would always talk with a nationalistic tone.
  • He sings in a low register.
  • People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one. (Leo J. Burke)
hot grammar tip

Hot Tip

Offset a Fronted Adverbial Phrase with a Comma

When an adverbial phrase is at the start of a sentence, it is usual to follow it with a comma.
  • On the count of 3, leap across.

A Quick Test

Help Us To Improve English Grammar Lessons
  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?
Please tell us using this form.
Do you know your English idioms? idioms test

Take Our Test.

search icon

Search our idioms database. (We have 10,000+ idioms!)