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What is an adverbial phrase?

Trying to get your head around adverbial phrases? We’ve got you…

Writing on green background that says, She ran her business like it was all she had ever wanted to do. Like it was all she had ever wanted to do is highlighted as the adverbial phrase


An adverbial phrase is basically a group of words that tells us more about how something is happening – it modifies the verb.

Let’s look a bit closer at the hows and whys…

As we all no doubt remember from school, a verb is a doing word. Right? Well, an adverb is a word that tells us a bit more about how the ‘doing’ is being done.

It can tell us things like how, when, where and how often the ‘doing’ happens.


For example, in this sentence…

‘My veg patch is growing nicely.’

… ‘nicely’ is the adverb because it describes how the verb, ‘growing’, is happening.


And in this sentence…

‘My client emails me daily for updates’

… ‘daily’ is the adverb because it tells us how often the verb, ‘emails’, happens.


But that’s just an adverb.

So what’s an adverbial phrase?

An adverbial phrase is essentially a group of words that acts like an adverb. It is generally used in the middle or at the end of a sentence – or anywhere but at the beginning, really, because then it becomes a fronted adverbial.

Check out this sentence.

‘I submitted my self-assessment tax return much later than usual.’

Here, ‘much later than usual’ is the adverbial phrase because it gives us more information about the verb, ‘submitted’.


Other examples of adverbial phrases include:

  • ‘Dad fell asleep during the best bit of the film.’
  • ‘My desk buddy ate his sandwich infuriatingly loudly.’
  • ‘He emailed in a rush and proper muffed it up.’
  • ‘My daughter always does her homework the minute she gets home.’

And that’s a quick and dirty guide to the adverbial phrase.

An adverbial phrase is essentially a group of words that acts like an adverb


Got that nailed? Why not check out our other blog posts on grammar and word use?


Fronted adverbials: What are they?

Comparisons: Is it ‘compared to’ or compared with’?

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

Historic or historical? What’s the difference?


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Comma Chameleon is a Manchester-based team of copywriters, editors and proofreaders, with decades of experience. We work with clients throughout the UK to bring colour to content and clarity to messages, no matter the size, format or platform. We simply love words, whether they’re yours or ours.

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