Adverb Phrase Definition and Function with Examples

Adverb Phrase Definition

A group of words that has an adverb as its head and has the same function as a single adverb is called an adverb phrase. The adverb phrase can modify other adverbs, adjectives, and verbs or modify a whole sentence.

The word combined with an adverb in an adverb phrase is most commonly an adverb.

The purpose of using adverb phrases is to give information about manner, time, place, or reason. The adverb phrases in a sentence broaden its meaning.

Must Read: What is a Phrase? Definition and Types of Phrases with Examples

Examples of Adverb Phrase

Adverb Phrase Definition and Function with Examples

Let’s take an example to understand the difference between adverb and adverb phrases.

  • He sings a song.

This is a complete sentence with the subject ‘she’ and the verb “sings.” This sentence doesn’t have any words that modify the verb sing. Let’s add the adverb beautifully to say how he sings a song.

  • She sings a song beautifully.

The adverb beautifully modifies (or adds more information) the verb sing in this sentence. We can use a group of two or more words to modify the same verb instead of a single adverb beautifully.

  • She sings a song in a beautiful way.

In this sentence, the group of words “in a beautiful way” does the same function as a single adverb and is called an adverb phrase.

Adverb and Adverb Phrase Further Examples

  • Adverb: She can’t speak slowly?
  • Adverb Phrase: He rides the bike very slowly.
  • Adverb: He beautifully decorated our house.
  • Adverb Phrase: He played the short in a beautiful style.
  • Adverb: We need to complete it quickly.
  • Adverb Phrase: The fisherman catches fish more quickly than us.
  • Adverb: The man behaved well.
  • Adverb Phrase: I understand pretty well everything.

The Function of Adverb Phrases in English

The adverb phrase basically performs three functions in a sentence, i.e., adjunct, disjunct, or conjunct. The adjunct in a sentence says how, how much, where, or when something happens.

  • She pushes the door with great force.

(Here, the adverb phrase of manner “with great force” describes how she pushes the door)

  • His brother wasn’t known to me in those days.

(The adverb phrase of time “in those days” describes when)

  • I so often visit their workplace.

(The phrase “so often” describes how much)

  • They haven’t checked the documents thoroughly enough.
  • They will distribute the water in all places.

(Here, the phrase “in all places” describes where something happens)

The adverb phrase can modify the whole sentence, which is called disjunct. It may appear before or in the middle of a sentence.

  • Quite honestly, I don’t believe this.
  • Oddly enough, the man didn’t say anything about the fact that they were getting married.
  • The two brothers are quite obviously different.

The adverb phrase may work as a conjunct if it links two parts in a sentence.

  • He may say yes to our offer. Then again, he may not.

(The adverb phrasethen again” connects two parts in the sentence. This is called conjunct)

Related: Adjective Phrases Formation and Function with Examples

Other Phrases Work as Adverbial Phrases

Adverbial phrases can be made with prepositions and infinitives (to + verb). Here are some examples

  • They might visit us tomorrow evening.

(The noun phrase “tomorrow evening,” says when, i.e., it gives information about time and describes the verb visit, therefore, it works as an adverbial.)

  • The students are playing cards at the station.

(The group of words “at the station” is a prepositional that answers the question where and modifies the verb playing; therefore, it is an adverbial phrase)

  • She is talking to her father in a very rude manner.
  • I usually play with my friends in my free time.

Similarly, infinitive phrases can also work as adverb phrases when used to modify verbs, adverbs, or adjectives. For example

  • She’s saving her money to buy a house.
  • I sing a song to make the children happy.

(The infinitive phrase “to make the children happy” works as an adverbial phrase of reason)

  • I donated more money to help people.

(The infinitive phrase “to help people” acts as an adverbial phrase of reason. It answers the question ‘why’ and modifies the verb donated.)

Examples of Adverb Phrases in Sentences

The following are examples of adverb phrases. It can take any position in a sentence.

  • He hits the dog with great force.
  • Truly happy, he gives me my money.
  • The cat stood on the table at dinner time.
  • The water flows with great speed.
  • This organization accepted my application without delay.
  • I hope they will reach the airport on time.
  • So as not to disturb anyone, I walked down the stairs calmly.
  • She didn’t work more quickly.
  • The bird fell to the ground.
  • He comes here too often.
  • Please come to our place later this night.
  • He did the speech amazingly well.
  • We may meet him in his hostel room.
  • She walks like a sick person. (Like a sick person is a phrase that says how she walks)
  • The parcel can be sold at any price.
  • Let’s go into the room, friends.
  • That old teacher teaches in a wonderful manner. (The adverb phrase “in a wonderful manner” says how he teaches.)

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