The English Adverbial Group: Types, Functions and Examples

The English Adverbial Group: Types, Functions and Examples

This post discusses The English Adverbial Group: Types, Functions and Examples. An adverbial group performs the same function as an adverb in a sentence. It usually expresses the contingent details about the verbal group such as time, place, manner, etc. The headword in an adverbial group is an adverb and it has other elements that modifier or qualifiers it. The adverbial group has its location under the adjunct.

Types of Adverbial Groups

In English, there are two types of the adverbial group. They are:

  1. The preposition-headed adverbial group
  2. The adverb-headed adverbial group.

The English Adverbial Group: Types, Functions and Examples

Let us consider each of these adverbial groups…

Preposition-headed Adverbial Group

This has a preposition as its headword. Take note that when prepositions stand alone, we refer to them as adjuncts. The structure of the preposition-headed adverbial group comprises a prepend (p) and a completive (c). The prepend is the preposition while the completive consists of a nominal group or a noun phrase which could also be a single noun or a pronoun depending on the sentence. See the following examples:

  • They were playing under the apple tree.
  • My brother lives in Lagos.
  • The car turned suddenly into the road.
  • He dropped the bottle on my table.
  • She slapped him in the face.
  • I ate the cake in the fridge.
  • His shot went over the bar.
  • Her skirt was above the knees.
  • A Knickerbocker is usually below the knees.
  • His house is built on the hill.

When an adverbial element comes before the prepend, we refer to such as ‘before preposition’ element; that is (b) (p) (c). E. g.

  • She slapped him right in the face.
  • He got to the airport just in time.
  • The shot went quite off the target.
  • I scored well­ above the pass mark.
  • The dictation is far above the pupil’s comprehension.

 Adverbial-headed Adverbial Group

This adverbial group has a traditional adverb as the headword. In this sense, we refer to the headword that is an adverb as the apex. There could be adverbial modifiers or qualifiers depending on the sentence in consideration.

The Structure of the Adverb-headed Adverbial Group

The structure of the adverb-headed adverbial group is (t), a, (l); where ‘t’ stands for ‘temperer’, a represents ‘apex’ and ‘l’ stands for the limiter. Note that both ‘temperer’ and ‘limiter’ are optional just like the modifier and qualifier in the nominal group are. The obligatory element in the adverb-headed adverbial group is the ‘apex’. Let us see some sentences to demonstrate this.

  • I can see clearly (a)
  • She arrived early (a)
  • He drives very slowly. (ta)
  • He arrived the country only yesterday. (ta)
  • The bird was flying rather too fast. (tta)
  • The shot was rather too fast. (tta)
  • We slept too late indeed. (tal)
  • They got home quite early enough. (tal)
  • The task was hard indeed. (al)
  • Many have gone too soon. (al)

Syntactic Function of the Adverbial Group

 The adverbial group performs the following syntactic roles:

Modifier in Adjective

An adverbial group can modify an adjective in a sentence. Consider these examples:

  • He was exceptionally
  • Yam is abysmally cheap in the state.
  • The building is structurally
  • The farm is extraordinarily
  • She was quite
  • The boy is particularly

Adverbials on the Clause Level/Adjunct

Adverbial groups serve as adverbials or function as adjuncts in a sentence. See these examples:

  • Disapprovingly, he got the visa at the Embassy.
  • She ran quite very fast.
  • He deserves the award indeed.
  • They really lived up to their parents’ expectations.
  • The boys ate rather gluttonously.

Pre and Post-modifier in a Nominal Group

Adverbials can modify or post-modify (qualify) a headword in a nominal group. Consider the following:

  • The then President of Uganda was a dictator.
  • Our way there was clumsy.

Prepositional Complement

Adverbial groups serve as a complement to prepositions. See the following examples:

  • Nobody cares about the refugees until recently.
  • She returned from overseas last year.
  • We do not know her whereabouts for now.
  • He has to wait till then.
  • They could not leave the town since then.

 There are other groups in English which I have explained in other posts. See Nominal group and Verbal Group. Share these educative posts with your friends. Thank you. Do not forget to drop your comments.



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