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What is a fronted adverbial?

what is a fronted adverbial?

What is a fronted adverbial?

It’s a question parents up and down the country have been asking themselves in recent weeks. Forced into a routine of homeschooling by COVID-19 and the consequent school closures, we’ve been given a terrifying insight to the full horrors of the Key Stage 2 grammar curriculum.

Fronted adverbials

Noun phrases

Compound adjectives

FANBOYS and De:De sentences…

It’s enough to make the sphincter contract. Even for professional authors and full-time copywriters.

In our day, grammar instruction consisted of a cursory look at nouns, verbs and adjectives, a quick dip into main and subordinate clauses, and then we were set loose with a pen, paper and our creative juices. That was all we needed to be able to write. These days, kids are expected to be able to identify and name every single component of a sentence, and writing with a pen requires some sort of licence. I mean, crikey!! A pen licence!??

Talk about killing creativity.

These days, kids are expected to be able to identify and name every single component of a sentence, and writing with a pen requires some sort of licence

But anyway… yes…

The fronted adverbial.

It’s a terrifying term, no doubt. But you’ll be pleased to know you’re probably using them on a daily basis without even knowing it.

In your work emails, text messages, Facebook posts… even those hastily scribbled notes you leave on the kitchen worktop directing your partner/kids/flatmate to some chore that needs their attention.

As in: ‘At some point today, can you maybe do something about the pile of dirty underpants you’ve abandoned in the corner of your bedroom? Thx.’

(Note to partner, obvs.)

A fronted adverbial is basically a word or phrase that’s used at the beginning of a sentence to describe the action that follows.

(You might see it defined as a word, phrase or clause used at the beginning of a sentence to modify a verb – especially if you’re dealing with KS2 materials – but. Same diff.)

The ‘used at the beginning of a sentence’ bit is the important thing, as that’s what makes it ‘fronted’. Shift the word or phrase describing the action to the front of a sentence, and it becomes a fronted adverbial. Follow it with a comma, continue your sentence, and you’re sorted.

A fronted adverbial is basically a word or phrase that’s used at the beginning of a sentence to describe the action that follows.

So what types of words are fronted adverbials?

Fronted adverbials can be used to add information relating to:

Time

Frequency

Place

Manner

Degree

 

So, you’ll find them in sentences like these:

In the morning, we’ll meet at the bus stop. (Time)

Every once in a while, she likes to go for a swim. (Frequency)

In the kitchen, she cooked up a storm. (Place)

Unusually, she did her homework straight away. (Manner)

Quite unexpectedly, there was a knock at the door. (Degree)

 

Check out more examples of fronted adverbials here.

 

And that’s all there is to it, really. Don’t be put off by the term – fronted adverbials are nothing to fret about. They’re something we use quite naturally, every time we write.

Fancy testing your knowledge? Take our quiz below!

Take the quiz!

 

Read further

For more grammar and language-use tips, check out our other blog posts:

What is an adverbial phrase?

Comparisons: is it 'compared to' or compared with'?

Looks like... Sounds like...: The heady world of homophones, homonyms and homographs

Degree adverbs: What are they, and why are we giving up on them?

Historic or historical? What's the difference?

 

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