Grammar-Quizzes › Adverbials


Recognize function and form

X structure diagram
We walk quite briskly.
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► What is an adverbial? ▼ Explanation of term

An adverbial:

  • is an inclusive term for words that are modifiers of verbs, adjectives, adverbs and clauses.
  • takes form as an adverb (briskly) or adverb phrase (very briskly), a stance adverb (perhaps), or a prepositional phrase (in a brisk manner),

An adverb:

  • expresses a particular meaning: (1)"situational adverbs" add detail information about the action—manner, frequency, degree and so on; (2) "stance adverbs" add opinion (Perhaps, Sadly) or information about the circumstances under which something is being said (Frankly, Briefly); and (3) temporal adverbs that add information about timing (soon, early, late).
  • functions as a modifier to a verb (quickly, frequently, daily), adjective (very, rather, quite) or another adverb (too fast, so slowly, really loudly) or a clause (Unfortunately, Sadly).
  • takes form with an -ly suffix (usually, rapidly) and occasionally a -ways suffix (sideways) or -wise (otherwise) suffix. A few adverbs take no suffix (well, fast, hard, loud).

An adverb phrase:

  • expresses the manner in which an activity occurs or the frequency which an action occurs.
  • functions as a modifier to the predicate, a verb.
  • takes form as a degree adverb modifying an adverb of manner or frequency (rather briskly, very often, extremely fast).

A prepositional phrase:

  • expresses manner of an action (in a quick manner), timing of an action (in the morning), location of an action (on the sidewalk) or an expression (in a flash).
  • functions mostly as (1) the predicate complement (an element required to complete the meaning of the subject and predicate); or (2) an adjunct (an element not required but adding additional information to a clause). See Prep Uses.
  • takes form as a preposition and its complement, which is often a noun phrase but may also be a variety of other structures—at home (N), in the house (NP), out of the house (PP), in stead of later (NP+PP), after leaving (Ger), after we left (Cls). See Prep Complements.

Adverb Summary




persian cat

Identify specific English grammar points that need review.


An Adverb: recognize how they function in clauses

Beginning–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers


He spoke freely. (modifies a verb)

He is very smart. (modifies an adjective)

He teaches quite creatively. (modifies an adverb)

He stopped exactly on time. (modifies a preposition phrase)

Suddenly, everyone started clapping. (modifies a clause)

Frankly, I don't understand the problem. (modifies a clause)

Adverbs for Manner & Degree

Adverb Suffixes: express how an action occurs

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Tennis player Nadal

He is an excellent tennis player.

He plays tennis excellently.

It was a hard game. (adjective)

They played hard. (adv – manner) 

He hardly played. (adv– degree)

*He appears expertly.         appear – seems stative verb

He appears professionallyappear – take part in a public event (dynamic verb)

Adverbs for Manner: compare the positioning of adverbs

Intermediate-Advanced ESL, Native Speakers


He moved silently.   (verb)

He was purposefully silent  (adjective)

Quietly, he turned the dial on the safe.  (sentence)

Adverbs for Degree: express the intensity of an action —how much?

(Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

A big talker

He talks excessively. (verb) 

He talks extremely fast. (Adv) 

He is rather talkative. (Adj)


He literally doesn't stop talking. (adv. degree) 

He translated the text literally. (adv. manner) 

Adverbs for Time & Place

Adverbial Expr for Time: express the timing of an action  (temporal modifiers)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL, Native Speakers


The sun heats the earth. (general truth – no adverb)

I am heating some water for tea. (at the moment)

The volcano erupted on April 14 2010. (specified time)

The volcano was erupting  for over month. (indefinite time)

The Tower has stood in Pisa since 1352 (permanent)

We have been standing in line for two hours.   (temporary)

Adverbs for Place : express movement in a particular direction (locational modifiers)

Beginning–Advanced ESL

man entering 

He went inside.
He went inside the house.

Adverb Modifiers to Prepositions: specify more precisely the timing, location or manner of the action (adverbial phrases)

Beginning–Advanced ESL


The batter hit the ball right here. 

The player threw the ball over here. 

The player threw the ball straight ahead.

The pitcher threw the ball smack into the batter's head.

He batted the ball clear out of the park. 

He hit the ball way over in the bay. 

Adverbs Frequency: express how often an action occurs

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


We normally take the garbage out at night.  (Unless something unexpected prevents this.)

We frequently take out the recyclables.

We occasionally take batteries out. 

We never take hazardous waste out.

We never have much time together.

Never do we have much time together.

Adverbs for Focus

Adverbs for Focus: draw attention to particular information

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

mobile/cel phone

Only my phone can make calls to family  in this area. (not my tablet)

My phone can only make calls to family  in this area. (one function)

My phone can make only calls to family  in this area. (not texts)

My phone can make calls only to family  in this area. (not friends)

My phone can make calls to family only in this area. (not long distance)

Positioning of Adverbs

Splitting Verbs: compare positioning of adverbs

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers


I will faithfully execute the office of president...

I will execute faithfully the office of president...

Stance Adverbs

Adverbs for Opinion : express truth or belief about a situation

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

A climber

Possibly, he will reach the top. (uncertain)  

He might reach the top of the ice wall. (uncertain)

He apparently has super-human strength.  (inference)

He must have super-human strength. (inference)

He actually climbed it by himself.  (factual, widely accepted)

In my view, he's pretty amazing.

He apparently climbed it in world-record time.


Adv for Evaluation: express an attitude about a situation

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

A climber 

Hopefully, he will reach the top. (evaluation adv.)
He set out hopefully to reach to the top. (manner adv.)

Adverbs for Speech-acts: express the conditions under which something is being said

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Frankly, it won't last 

Frankly, I don't think your plan will work. (speech-act related adverb)

He told me frankly about his problems. (adverb)

Confidentially, Ed is having some money problems.

He mentioned confidentially that he's having money problems.

Linking Adverbs

Connective Adverbs: indicate the relationship between two situations  

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers


Buying organic fruit and vegetables is a better choice.  In the first place, they are less contaminated by chemical pesticides.  For another, they are not genetically modified. In addition, they are allowed to mature or ripen fully.  Finally, they have a shorter "shelf life" so they are sold when fresh or best.  


Interjections: express a short emotional response

Intermediate–Advanced ESL

Uh! Can't make up his mind. 

Uh. Which one should I eat?.  (pause)

Wow!   This tastes good.  (surprise)

Oops! I dropped it. (embarrassment)

Good day! (greeting)

Happy Birthday! (holiday greeting)



Discourse Markers: grab attention, hesitate, affirm, interject information into the conversation

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Giving a presentation 

So!   What you are saying is that we have to have everything ready by then.

So… what you are saying is that we have to have everything ready by then.

So, you are saying we have to have everything ready by Wednesday midnight.  (inf.)  I guess that…

So we need to get the testing, advertising and database in place.  (inf.) In summary

Related Pages

Indeed / Even : emphasize unexpected or extraordinary details 

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Gingerbread House

His work is indeed more amazing than before

His work is even more amazing than before

His work is in fact more amazing than before

So…that / Such…that: intensify a quality before stating an effect

Intermediate. ESL, Native Speaker

Meteor Shower

The meteor storm was so beautiful that we watched it all night.

It was such a beautiful meteor storm that we watched it all night.

We will learn so much interesting information that it will take years to process it.  (quantity)

We will learn such interesting information that it will take years to process it.  (quality)

By / With: state means or instrument— How do you do it?

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


You can open it by using a knife.

You can cut the string with a knife.

Note that because many connectors function as part of adverbial phrases or clauses, their links may be listed on Adverb and Connector summary pages.