Saturday, February 27, 2010

Adverbs and Adverbials :: Difference Explained

The term adverb refers to a word class to which words like slowly, here, now etc belong . Adverbials , on the contrary, is a functional label , covering all the syntactic units performing the same function as single-word adverbs , that is, they are units which describe the action denoted by the verb . These syntactic units may be Prepositional Phrases or Noun Phrases.

An adverbial can describe an action by telling us how, where and when an action is done . Examples

* She sings sweetly . ( how)

* She has gone there. (where)

*He is sleeping now( when)

Instead of using single-word adverbials as in our examples above , we can use Prepositional Phrases and Noun Phrases to describe actions .

* She gets up at 6 o' clock .

* He left home in a hurry .

* She has gone to the hospital.

In these examples we have used Prepositional Phrases as advebials .

In the following examples we are using Noun Phrases as adverbials :

* He worked hard all day

* She came back home home last week .

* They will join us tomorrow .

* She left for the US the day before yesterday.

* They opposed the government proposal tooth and nail.

Please note that the term adverb refers to a word class while adverbial refers to different syntactic units performing a similar function, namely, describing the action performed by the verb.

The basic concept of describing an action is provided by the term adverb while the different realizations of the concept are provided by the term adverbial.

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  1. Dear Proffesor,
    This post really helped me to understand that fragile difference between these two terms.

    Greetings from Poland, and thank you for your concideration.

    Yours sincerely,


    1. I am happy to learn that my post " Difference between Adverbs and Adverbials" was of some use to you .I wish you all the best in your efforts to learn the English language Thank you for your kind words .

      Prof V.P.Rajappan.

  2. thank you very much; that is a conscise and logical answer. I am copying some of it to use in class for my students, if u do not mind

  3. Thank you very much! Now I understand the difference!

  4. Dear Sir -- Thank you so much for this post but I would like to ask you to clarify the difference between Adverbial Adjunct (as given in Hornby book) and mail id is
    Sir please do the needful..

    1. Adjuncts are adverbials seen from the point of view of sentence structure. When an adverbial is filly integrated into the sentence structure it is called adjunct . Example : He loved her sincerely. When the adverbial is loosely integrated it is called a disjunct . Example: Unfortunately, he failed in the test . Conjuncts , on the contrary , are adverbials which are not at all integrated , but serve as a connective linking the sentence with the preceding sentence . Example: Cæsar was ambitious, , therefore, the conspirators decided to assassinte him.

      Prof. V.P.Rajappan

    2. Thanks a lot sir u gave a clear- cut definition to adverbs and adverbials. It's quite explanatory and very useful.

  5. sir hopefully u did ur best but still iits not clear wat is the deiffrence btween advrbs and advrbials. u have ficussed on advrbials only bt u should hv ficussed on the difference thats is still unclear to me. if any1 can help me plz mail me at thnx for anticipation plz

    1. The term adverb was used in traditional English grammar . to refer to words that modified verbs . A verb can be modified in different ways . So we have adverbs of manner , place ,time reason and frequency . Traditional grammar called these words adverbs . But a verb can be modified by Preposional Phrases and even Noun Phrases The term adverbial embraces single-word adverbs , prepositional phrases and noun phrases that perform the grammatical function of verb modification

      Prof. V.P.Rajappan

  6. According to traditional grammar adverbs are words that modify verbs . We have adverbs of manner , place , time , reason and frequency . Modification of verbs can be done by Noun Phrases and Prepositional Phrases in addition to single -word adverbs . The term adverbial embraces single-word adverbs , Prepositional Phrases and Noun Phrases that perform the grammatical function of verb modification . Remember that adverb is a member of the set called adverbials . Examples

    She went to the school.

    He played well .

    He gets up at 6 in the morning

    She arrived yesterday .

    You can see prepositional phrases' noun phrases in addition to single-word adverbs in these examples All are adverbials!

    Prof . V.P.Rajappan

  7. thanking you sir
    from zaklkariya mohamed

  8. Thank you very much Professor Rajappan !This is helping me study for my English Exams! Greetings from Portugal, God bless!

  9. Thanks professor , an excellent an clear explanation, perfect. thanks a lot ;)

  10. Thanks alot sir to the fullest of your mastery.
    What i derived from this is 'All the adverbs are adverbials but adverbs are only a type of those adverbials'. Am i right sir?

  11. I appreciate your explanation of adverbs and adverbials!

    If you don't mind, can I have a question?

    Can adverbs and adverbials also modify sentences, adjectives, and other adverbials?

    I really really want to know that!

  12. Now I know the difference between adverbs and adverbials. Thank you! Greetings from Sweden!

  13. Thank you Prof for sharing this post. I found it informative and helpful. Can you share more posts on forms and functions of different clauses in a sentence or maybe the discourse analysis.
    Thank you

  14. What is the difference between adjectival and adjectives also

  15. Thanks Proffesor,

    This is really helpful.

  16. Sir,would you please explain to me the meaning of stylistics, its usage and importance in English?

  17. I'm from Argentina and I'm studying english language, it's really nice what you say about english taking us to be one world and the difference between aadverbs and adverbilas helped me a lot, thank you.

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