adverbials


adverbials
Adverbials are words or phrases which give information about when, how, where, or in what circumstances something happens. An adverbial can be an adverb, a group of words whose main word is an adverb, or a prepositional phrase. A few noun groups can also be used as adverbials.
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The main types of adverbials indicate manner, aspect, opinion, place, time, frequency, duration, degree, extent, emphasis, focus, and probability. These are explained below, and then information is given on the position of adverbials in a clause.
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For information on adverbials such as `moreover', `however', and `next', which are used to indicate connections between clauses, see entry at ↑ Linking adverbials.
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manner
Adverbials of manner are used to describe the way in which something happens or is done.

They looked anxiously at each other.

He did not play well enough to win.

She listened with great patience as he told his story.

I'm going to handle this my way.

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Most adverbs of manner are formed by adding `-ly' to an adjective. For example, the adverbs `quietly' and `badly' are formed by adding `-ly' to the adjectives `quiet' and `bad'. See entry at ↑ '-ly' words.

I didn't play badly.

He reported accurately what they had said.

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Some adverbs of manner have the same form as adjectives and have similar meanings.

I've always been interested in fast cars.

The driver was driving too fast.

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These are the ones most commonly used:
direct, fast, hard, late, loud, quick, right, slow, solo, straight, tight, wrong
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The adverb of manner related to the adjective `good' is `well'.

He is a good dancer.

He dances well.

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Note that `well' can also be an adjective describing someone's health.

`How are you?' —-`I am very well, thank you.'

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aspect
Not all adverbs ending in `-ly' are adverbs of manner. You use `-ly' adverbs formed from classifying adjectives to make it clear what aspect of something you are talking about. For example, if you want to say that something is important in the field of politics or from a political point of view, you can say that it is `politically important'.

It would have been politically damaging for him to retreat.

We had a very bad year last year financially.

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Here is a list of the most common of these adverbs:
biologically, commercially, economically, emotionally, financially, geographically, intellectually, logically, morally, outwardly, politically, psychologically, racially, scientifically, socially, statistically, technically, visually
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`Speaking' is sometimes added to these adverbs. For example, `technically speaking' can be used to mean `from a technical point of view'.

He's not a doctor, technically speaking.

He and Malcolm decided that, racially speaking, anyway, they were in complete agreement.

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Other `-ly' adverbs are used to indicate your reaction to, or your opinion of, the fact or event you are talking about. These are sometimes called sentence adverbs.

Surprisingly, most of my help came from the technicians.

Luckily, I had seen the play before so I knew what it was about.

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For a list of these adverbs, see entry at ↑ Opinions.
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For information about other small groups of `-ly' adverbs, see entry at ↑ '-ly' words.
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Some `-ly' adverbs have a different meaning from adjectives to which they seem to be related. For example, `hardly' has a different meaning from `hard'.

This has been a long hard day.

Her bedroom was so small she could hardly move in it.

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place
Adverbials of place are used to say where something happens or where something goes.

A plane flew overhead.

The children were playing in the park.

No birds or animals came near the body.

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For information on adverbials of place, see entries at ↑ Places or at the individual adverbs and prepositions.
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time
Adverbials of time are used to say when something happens.

She will be here soon.

He was born on 3 April 1925.

Come and see me next week.

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For information on adverbials of time, see entries at ↑ Days and dates and ↑ Time, or at the individual words.
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Adverbials of frequency are used to say how often something happens.

We often swam in the sea.

She never comes to my parties.

The group met once a week.

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Here is a list of adverbials of frequency, arranged from `least often' to `most often':
never,
rarely, seldom, hardly ever, not much, infrequently,
occasionally, periodically, intermittently, sporadically, from time to time, now and then,
sometimes,
often, frequently, regularly, a lot,
usually, generally, normally,
nearly always,
always, all the time, constantly, continually
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`Regularly' and `periodically' indicate that something happens at fairly regular intervals. `Intermittently' and `sporadically' indicate that something happens at irregular intervals.
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Adverbials of duration are used to say how long something takes or lasts.

She glanced briefly at Lucas.

We were married for fifteen years.

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Here is a list of adverbials of duration, arranged from `least long' to `longest':
briefly, temporarily, long, indefinitely, always, permanently, forever
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Note that `long' is normally used only in questions and negative sentences.

Have you known her long?

I can't stay long.

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degree
Adverbials of degree are used to indicate the degree or intensity of a state or action.

I still enjoy it a great deal.

I enjoyed the course immensely.

They had suffered severely.

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The following adverbials of degree are used with verbs. They are arranged from `very low degree' to `very high degree'.
little,
a bit, a little, slightly,
significantly, noticeably,
rather, fairly, quite, somewhat, sufficiently, adequately, moderately,
very much, a lot, a great deal, really, heavily, greatly, strongly, considerably, extensively, badly, dearly, deeply, hard, soundly, well,
remarkably, enormously, intensely, profoundly, immensely, tremendously, hugely, severely, radically, drastically
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Note that `quite' can also be used to indicate completeness or to emphasize a verb. See entry at ↑ quite.
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Some of these adverbials are used with only one verb or with a restricted set of verbs, as shown in the examples below.

We love him dearly.

I should dearly like to meet her.

The corn ration was drastically reduced.

Our attitude to the land itself must be radically changed.

He protested that he had not touched it, but was disbelieved and soundly beaten.

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For information on the use of adverbs of degree in front of adjectives and other adverbs, see section at submodifiers in entry at ↑ Adverbs.
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extent
Adverbials of extent are used to indicate the extent to which something happens or is true.

The city had been totally destroyed.

The tightness in my chest had almost disappeared.

The Labour Party was largely created by the trade unions.

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The following adverbials of extent are used with verbs. They are arranged from `smallest extent' to `greatest extent'.
partly, partially,
largely,
almost, nearly, practically, virtually,
completely, entirely, totally, quite, fully, perfectly, altogether, utterly
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Emphasizing adverbs add emphasis to the action described by a verb.

I quite agree.

I simply adore this flat.

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The following adverbs are used to add emphasis:
absolutely, certainly, just, positively, quite, really, simply
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Some emphasizing adverbs are used to emphasize adjectives. See entry at ↑ Adverbs.
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focus
You can use focusing adverbs to indicate the main thing involved in a situation.

I'm particularly interested in classical music.

We want especially to thank the numerous friends who encouraged us.

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The following adverbs can be used like this:
chiefly, especially, mainly, mostly, notably, particularly, predominantly, primarily, principally, specially, specifically
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Some focusing adverbs can be used to emphasize that only one thing is involved in what you are saying.

This is solely a matter of money.

It's a large canvas covered with just one colour.

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The following adverbs can be used like this:
alone, exclusively, just, only, purely, simply, solely
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The adverbs of extent `largely', `partly', and `entirely' can be used to focus on additional information.

The house was cheap partly because it was falling down.

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Adverbs of frequency such as `usually' and `often' can also be used like this.

They often fought each other, usually as a result of arguments over money.

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Adverbials of probability are used to indicate how certain you are about something.

I definitely saw her yesterday.

The driver probably knows the quickest route.

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The following adverbials are used to indicate probability or certainty. They are arranged from `least certain' to `most certain'.
conceivably,
possibly,
perhaps, maybe,
hopefully,
probably,
presumably,
almost certainly,
no doubt, doubtless,
definitely
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position: manner, place, time
Adverbials of manner, place, and time usually come after the main verb. If the verb has an object, the adverbial comes after the object.

She sang beautifully.

Thomas made his decision immediately.

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If more than one of these adverbials is used in a clause, the usual order is manner, then place, then time.

They were sitting quite happily in the car.

She spoke very well at the village hall last night.

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If the object of the verb is a long one, the adverbial is sometimes put in front of it.

He could picture all too easily the consequences of being found by the owners.

Later I discovered in a shop in Monmouth a weekly magazine about horse-riding.

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You can also put an adverb of manner in front of the main verb.

He carefully wrapped each component in several layers of foam rubber.

Dixon swiftly decided to back down.

He silently counted four, then put the receiver down.

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Adverbs of manner are rarely put in front of the verb if the verb would then be the last word in the clause. For example, you would say, `She listened carefully'. You would not say `She carefully listened'. However, sentences such as `Smith gladly obliged', where the adverb describes the attitude of the subject, are possible in stories and formal speech.

I gladly gave in.

His uncle readily agreed.

Amanda reluctantly desisted.

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If the verb group contains one or more auxiliaries, you can put the adverb of manner in front of the main verb or after the first auxiliary, especially if that auxiliary is a modal.

I felt that the historical background had been very carefully researched.

She had carefully measured out his dose of medicine.

They were all quietly smiling.

Still, Brody thought, one death would probably be quickly forgotten.

Provided you are known to us, arrangements can quickly be made to reimburse you.

They might easily have been taken for brothers.

They told me that today you lost out on the NATO contract that you had so desperately been counting on.

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Note that adverbs which indicate how well something is done go after the object of the verb if there is one. If there is no object, they go after the verb.

Teddy did everything perfectly.

I didn't play badly.

You played well.

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If the verb is passive, the adverb can also go in front of the verb, after any auxiliaries.

I had been well conditioned by the world in which I grew up.

In the sharp blacks and whites from the midday sun Bond was well camouflaged.

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Most adverbs of manner which do not end in `-ly', for example `hard' and `loud', are only used after verbs or the objects of verbs.

You work too hard.

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The exception is `fast', which is also used in front of the present participles of verbs in continuous tenses.

We are fast becoming a nation fed entirely on canned and processed food.

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If the adverbial is a prepositional phrase, it is usually put at the end of the clause, not in front of the verb. For example, you say `He looked at her in a strange way'. You do not say `He in a strange way looked at her'.

One consequence is that the horse's incisor teeth become worn down in an unusual way.

He had been brought up through each level in the proper manner.

It just fell out by accident.

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putting the adverbial first
In stories and descriptive accounts, adverbials of manner are sometimes put at the beginning of a sentence. This position gives the adverbial more emphasis.

Gently I took hold of Mary's wrists to ease her arms away.

Slowly people began to desert the campaign.

With a sigh, he rose and walked away.

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Similarly, adverbials of time and duration are often placed first in accounts of events.

At eight o'clock I went down for my breakfast.

In 1937 he retired.

For years I'd had to hide what I was thinking.

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Adverbials of place are often put first when describing a scene or telling a story, or when contrasting what happens in one place with what happens in another.

In the kitchen there was a message for him from his son.

In Paris there was a massive wave of student riots.

At the very top of the steps was a bust of Shakespeare on a pedestal.

She rang the bell for Sylvia. In came a girl she had not seen before.

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Note that in the last two examples, inversion occurs: that is, the verb is put in front of the subject. Inversion does not occur when the subject is a pronoun.

Off they ran.

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You cannot use a pronoun and `be' after an adverbial. For example, you cannot say `At the top of the steps it was'.
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When negative adverbials are put first, inversion occurs even when the subject is a pronoun.

Never have so few been commanded by so many.

On no account must they be let in.

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See entry at ↑ Inversion.
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Adverbials which indicate your opinion (sentence adverbials) are usually put first in a sentence. See entry at ↑ Opinions.
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position: frequency, probability
Adverbials of frequency and probability are often put after the first auxiliary, if there is one, or in front of the main verb.

Landlords have usually been able to evade land reform.

Women are often encouraged to do the jobs that don't particularly interest men.

They can probably afford another one.

This sometimes led to trouble.

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They can also be put first in a clause.

Sometimes people expect you to do more than is reasonable.

Presumably they'd brought him home and he'd invited them in.

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They are put after the link verb `be' when there is no auxiliary.

They are usually right.

He was definitely scared.

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Note that adverbs of probability are put in front of negative contractions such as `don't' and `won't'.

They definitely don't want their girls breaking the rules.

He probably doesn't really want them at all.

It probably won't be that bad.

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`Maybe' and `perhaps' are usually put first in a clause.

Maybe I ought to go back there.

Perhaps they just wanted to warn us off.

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position: degree, extent
Some adverbs of degree and extent usually come in front of the main verb. If there are auxiliaries, they can come after the first auxiliary or in front of the main verb.

He almost crashed into a lorry.

She really enjoyed the party.

We quite liked her.

So far we have largely been looking at the new societies from the inside.

This finding has been largely ignored.

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The following adverbs are used like this:
almost, largely, nearly, rather, really, quite, virtually
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Other adverbs of degree and extent can come in front of the main verb, after the main verb, or after the object (if there is one).

Mr Brooke strongly criticized the Bank of England.

I disagree completely with John Taylor.

That argument doesn't convince me totally.

They agreed that nuclear weapons should be totally prohibited.

This conclusion has been heavily criticized by Robert Maze.

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The following adverbs are used like this:
badly, completely, greatly, heavily, little, seriously, severely, strongly, totally
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Some adverbials of degree are always or nearly always used after a verb or the object of a verb.

The audience enjoyed it hugely.

I missed you terribly.

Annual budgets varied tremendously.

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The following adverbials are used like this:
a bit, a great deal, a little, a lot, hard, hugely, immensely, moderately, remarkably, terribly, tremendously
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position: emphasizing
Emphasizing adverbs usually come after the subject, after an auxiliary, or after `be'.

I absolutely agree.

I would just hate to have a daughter like her.

That kind of money is simply not available.

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Note that they are put in front of negative contractions such as `don't' and `won't'.

It just can't be done.

That simply isn't true.

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position: focusing
Focusing adverbs are generally put after the first auxiliary or in front of the main verb, or in front of the words you are focusing on.

Up to now, the law has mainly had a negative role in this area.

This at least told him what he chiefly wanted to know.

I survive mainly by pleasing others.

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If the verb is `be', the focusing adverb is put after `be' if there is no auxiliary.

Economic development is primarily a question of getting more work done.

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The focusing adverbs `alone' and `only' can be put in other positions in a clause. For more information, see entries at ↑ alone and ↑ only.
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You do not usually use an adverbial to separate a verb from its object. You do not say, for example, `I like very much English'. You say `I like English very much'.
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Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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