Adverbial Examples [Words, Phrases, and Clauses]

Adverbial is an umbrella term for words, phrases, and clauses functioning as an adverb.

Learn more about adverbials:

This post contains example sentences of adverbials divided into four categories, fourth of which contains mix of adverbial words, adverbial phrases, and adverbial clauses – a scenario closer to real-world writing.

To get the most out of these examples, notice why these words, phrases, and clauses are adverbials. That is, identify the adverbial questions they’re answering. Also, try to move around the adverbial in the sentence to see what other positions they can work in (remember, adverbials are often mobile in a sentence).

Note: first, type of adverbial has been mentioned in square brackets next to each example; second, adverbials in each example sentence have been underlined.

1. Examples of adverbial words

1.1 Adverb

These are what we know as adverbs, and they always function adverbially. Note that the last three are examples of sentence adverb. They’re different from others in the sense that they don’t modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb but either express writer’s view on the entire sentence (comment adverb) or connect two sentences (conjunctive adverb). Examples:

I reached home late. [ Adverbial of Time]

Let’s meet tomorrow. [Time]

I left the key here, but I can’t find it now. [Place/ Time]

We should find a restaurant nearby. [Place]

Secrets rarely remain secret. [Frequency]

I’ve never watched a tennis match live at Wimbledon. [Frequency]

Mac diligently prepared for his job interviews. [Manner]

I completed the form quickly. [Manner]

The coffee was too hot. [Degree]

He is totally unpretentious. [Degree]

Your turn to speak will come shortly. [Duration]

The shop has been shut permanently. [Duration]

I hadn’t yet spoken in the meeting and therefore jumped in when I got a chance. However, what I said was just for saying and not for adding any value to the discussion. [Sentence adverb: Conjunctive adverb]

Unfortunately, the meeting had to be postponed. [Sentence adverb: Comment adverb]

Surprisingly, he failed the test. [Sentence adverb: Comment adverb]

1.2 Noun

Yes, even nouns can function adverbially. Examples:

I’ll meet you Friday. [Adverbial of Time. Note that on Friday, in place of Friday, too is adverbial of time, but we’ve included it here because it’s a prepositional phrase.]

I’m going shopping in the afternoon. [Place]

2. Examples of adverbial phrases

Noun phrase, adverb phrase, participial phrase, prepositional phrase, and infinitive phrase belong to this category. Whereas an adverb phrase always functions adverbially, the other four function adverbially sometimes.

Some think that an adverbial phrase should contain an adverb, but that’s true of only one adverbial phrase, adverb phrase. Look at the other four adverbial phrases; you may or may not find adverbs in them.

2.1 Noun phrase

A noun phrase functions mainly as a noun and occasionally as an adverb. Here are few examples of its adverbial function.

I parted with my business partner more than six years back. [Adverbial of Time]

Last week was hell. [Time]

I’ll arrive this morning. [Time]

I was not at my best that day. [Time]

News on pandemic is covered a great deal whenever infections spike. [Frequency]

The police arrested the man who had been loitering around the parliament a lot. [Frequency]

Since my last visit here, quality of service has improved a lot. [Degree]

Healthcare systems have been stressed a great deal during the pandemic. [Degree]

The Balvenie Forty has been aged 40 years. [Duration]

2.2 Adverb phrase

An adverb phrase is a phrase that has an adverb as its most important word (also called head word). An adverb phrase always functions adverbially. Note that the last two are examples of sentence adverb. Examples:

(Note: Head word has been highlighted in bold in all adverb phrases.)

The thief had nowhere to escape. [Adverbial of Place]

I’ve placed the keys somewhere I don’t remember. [Place]

He performed all the tasks quite easily. [Manner]

You deserve all the accolades as you’ve worked incredibly hard for the podium finish. [Manner]

After such result, he’ll never ever invest in these stocks. [Frequency]

I hardly ever read newspapers in print these days. [Frequency]

Unfortunately for the government, the pandemic hit just when the economy was looking up again. [Sentence adverb: Comment adverb]

Luckily for our neighbor, the street dog raised an alarm on seeing the intruder. [Sentence adverb: Comment adverb]

More about adverb phrase:

2.3 Participial phrase

A participial phrase, the phrase that start with the present participle or past participle form of verb, functions mostly adjectivally and occasionally adverbially. Participial phrases acting adverbially will often, but not always, start with a subordinating conjunction such as while, after, before, and when. Here are few examples of its adverbial function.

After coming back from the office, I proceeded to take bath. [Adverbial of Time]

When leading Microsoft, Bill Gates used to take breaks for few days from his work twice a year to think about the big picture. [Time]

Josh had palpitations while addressing the meeting. [Time]

Coming late for the class, I was marked absent. [Reason]

Exasperated by the pigeons dirtying my balcony, I installed a protective net. [Reason]

Even after performing well, he didn’t find place in the team. [Contrast or concession]

Although groomed in the best possible way, the tycoon’s son struggled to take the business any further. [Contrast or concession]

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2.4 Prepositional phrase

A prepositional phrase, the phrase with ‘preposition + noun’ combination, functions mostly adverbially and occasionally adjectivally. Here are few examples of its adverbial function. Note that the last is an example of sentence adverb. Examples:

On Monday, I’ve a crucial meeting. [Adverbial of Time]

On that occasion, I wasn’t prepared for the hardships of the job. [Time]

Fingers were made before forks. [Time]

I’ll leave for the airport at 6 AM. [Place/ Time]

The tiger sprinted and pounced on the deer. [Place]

The tiger on the rock is a Siberian tiger. [The prepositional phrase on the rock is describing the noun phrase The tiger (it is helping to pinpoint a particular tiger) and hence is functioning as an adjective, and not an adverb.]

Have you sat with friends for a frugal meal or drink after a long time at a spartan place? [Purpose/ Time/ Place]

I’ll be back in 10 minutes. [Duration]

It has been raining for 30 minutes. [Duration]

Since this task requires diligence, you shouldn’t do it in hurry. [Manner]

He walked with a limp. [Manner]

The statue has been crafted with diligence. [Manner]

At times, I felt should quit and go on a long vacation. [Frequency]

Professionals, unlike wannabes, practice with unflinching regularity. [Frequency]

The helicopter went down apparently because of bad weather. [Reason]

The meeting wouldn’t start without him. [Condition]

Despite hiccups, their love found a way. [Contrast or concession]

You need financial security for leading a stress-free life. [Purpose]

We didn’t travel this far for nothing. [Purpose]

To be truthful, I didn’t believe you at the first instance. [Sentence adverb: Comment adverb]

To be honest, I didn’t see this problem coming. [Sentence adverb: Comment adverb]

The question paper had both short-answer and long-answer questions. In addition, it carried Multiple Choice Questions. [Sentence adverb: Conjunctive adverb]

In conclusion, we realize that climate change is real and is already among us, but we are not taking any steps to avert earth’s sixth mass extinction event. [Sentence adverb: Conjunctive adverb]

2.5 Infinitive phrase

An infinitive phrase, the phrase with ‘to + verb’ combination, can function as noun, adjectivally, or adverbially. In its adverbial function, an infinitive phrase expresses purpose. Here are few examples of its adverbial function.

To lose weight, you must exercise regularly and eat healthy. [Adverbial of Purpose]

To lose weight has been a long-standing goal for me. [To lose weight is subject of the sentence and hence is functioning as a noun, and not an adverb.]

My desire to lose weight is yet to translate into any effort. [To lose weight is describing the noun phrase My desire, implying it is functioning as an adjective, and not an adverb.]

To read more, please subscribe to our newsletter. [Purpose]

To do well in the exam, you must study hard for at least three months. [Purpose]

To seek these fulfilments, we become members of different communities, clubs, and associations and participate in different activities. [Purpose]

The Company has hired a designer to bring uniformity and quality in design. [Purpose]

You should use your own product to know its benefits and flaws. [Purpose]

2.6 Absolute phrase

Absolute phrases are almost a sentence. In the first example, for instance, just an auxiliary verb were would make it a sentence. They’re mainly formed by adding a participial phrase to a noun or pronoun. Examples:

His arms tucked in his jacket’s front pockets, the actor posed stylishly for the cameras.

The buffalo is grazing in the field, its tail wagging, its horns pointing ominously towards me. [Two absolute phrases]

Temperature soaring to 45 degrees Celsius, the government issued an advisory for the people.

With the road cleared of the boulders, the driver took his seat and started the engine.

A victory looking certain, the player slackened the intensity.

3. Examples of adverbial clauses

Adverb clause is the only adverbial clause.

3.1 Adverb clause

Along with prepositional phrases, adverb clauses are the most common adverbials, always functioning adverbially. You must’ve written these gazillion times. Examples:

We can meet whenever you’re free. [Adverbial of Time]

I reached office after the client had left. [Time]

The sales team couldn’t meet its target because the pandemic reduced the demand drastically. [Reason]

Since his promotion is due this year, he is slogging hard to bag few more deals for his division. [Reason]

Even though he clocked his personal best, he finished fourth in the race. [Contrast or concession]

Some say that dogs are friendlier than cats, although cats can also be extremely loving. [Contrast or concession]

Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead. [Condition]

Unless you stop wasting time on endless entertainment, you won’t do well in school and, later, college. [Condition]

More about adverb clause:

4. Examples of mix of adverbial words, phrases, and clauses

Each sentence that follows contains a mix of adverbials we’ve covered so far. The adverbials have been numbered so that you can easily track them while following the explanation. To get the most out of these examples, look at the first example (A) and try yourself the same with other examples.

A. In our municipality (1), streetlights are switched on before dark (2).

(1) Prepositional phrase = Adverbial phrase of place

(2) Prepositional phrase = Adverbial phrase of time

B. Since falling ill (1), I haven’t ventured out of house (2).

(1) Participial phrase = Adverbial phrase of time

(2) Prepositional phrase = Adverbial phrase of place

C. Can we meet ten minutes before the meeting (1) to brainstorm (2)?

(1) Noun phrase = Adverbial phrase of time

(2) Infinitive phrase = Adverbial phrase of purpose

D. Crucially (1), while providing these essential services (2), we are focused on the safety of our employees and contractors around the world (3) – we are deeply (4) grateful for their heroic work and are committed to their health and well-being. Source

(1) Adverb = Comment adverb

(2) Participial phrase = Adverbial phrase of time

(3) Prepositional phrase = Adverbial phrase of place

(4) Adverb = Adverbial word of degree

E. Unfortunately (1), the match had to be canceled because one of the coaching staff tested positive for Covid (2).

(1) Adverb = Comment adverb

(2) Adverb clause = Adverbial clause of reason

F. Never (1) mention rope in the house of a man who has been hanged (2).

(1) Adverb = Adverbial word of frequency

(2) Prepositional phrase = Adverbial phrase of place

G. After three days of intense training (1), I could finally (2) sculpt something noteworthy.

(1) Prepositional phrase = Adverbial phrase of time

(2) Adverb = Adverbial word of time

H. The number of internet users has grown sharply (1) in developing countries (2) in the last ten years (3).

(1) Adverb = Adverbial word of manner

(2) Prepositional phrase = Adverbial phrase of place

(3) Prepositional phrase = Adverbial phrase of time

I. His parties used to be so (1) sought-after, but you hardly (2) see anyone around (3) after his fortunes went down (4).

(1) Adverb = Adverbial word of degree

(2) Adverb = Adverbial word of frequency

(3) Adverb = Adverbial word of place

(4) Adverb clause = Adverbial clause of time

J. After the TV journalist lost her job (1), many so-called friends who used to request her for appearance on her TV show (2) disappeared overnight (3).

(1) Adverb clause = Adverbial clause of time

(2) Prepositional phrase = Adverbial phrase of place

(3) Adverb = Adverbial word of duration

K. I was shocked when I heard one of my colleagues bringing up the issue of corruption in banking industry (2) in our Monday meeting (1 and 3).

(1) Adverb clause = Adverbial clause of time

This example is somewhat different. Here, the three adverbials aren’t clearly demarcated; the adverb clause itself contains following two adverbial phrases.

(2) Prepositional phrase (in banking industry) = Adverbial phrase of place

(3) Prepositional phrase (in our Monday meeting) = Adverbial phrase of time

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