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adverb phrase


adverb phrase

An adverb phrase (also called an adverbial phrase) usually answers one of these questions.


A word group with an adverb as its head. This adverb may be accompanied by modifiers or qualifiers.

An adverb phrase can modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb, and it can appear in a number of different positions in a sentence.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • The Cheshire Cat vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of its tail.

  • The players responded surprisingly well to all the pressures of the playoffs.

  • The best way to preserve the flavor and texture of fresh vegetables is to cook them as quickly as possible.

  • As quickly as possible we cleaned the fish and placed them in coolers.

  • The air was warm, stirred only occasionally by a breeze.

  • Only occasionally is there a rumble in the sky or a hint of rain.

  • "If youth be a defect, it is one that we outgrow only too soon."
    (James Russell Lowell)

  • Snow fell much earlier than usual.

  • "Surprisingly enough, after meeting other minority professionals through the years and being associated with various minority professional organizations, I found that I was not alone."
    (Keith R. Wyche, Good Is Not Enough. Penguin, 2009)

  • Another model of green living is, surprisingly enough, the shantytown.

  • Adverbial phrases are so-called because they can occur in the same range of positions as single adverbs; but many such adverbial phrases, paradoxically, do not contain an adverb. Such adverb-less adverbial phrases are typically prepositional phrases, as [italicized] in the examples below:
    - On Friday night, I'm playing squash.
    - Their marriage broke up in the most painful way.
    - May I, on behalf of the shareholders, congratulate you?
    (Jame R. Hurford, Grammar: A Student's Guide. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994)

  • "Like adverbs, adverb phrases can cause confusion because there is some flexibility in where they occur within sentences, and even in modifying the sentence structure. As well, adverb phrases are sometimes embedded into other phrases.

    "Examples are:
    a. 'Laura, a better, gentler, more beautiful Laura, whom everybody, everybody loved dearly and tenderly.' [Norris]

    b. 'He had taken her hand sympathizingly, forgivingly, but his silence made me curious.' [Michelson]

    c. 'David, on the lowest step, was very evidently not hearing a word of what was being said.' [Porter]
    Our first example identifies an adverb phrase following the verb loved; the next example shows an adverb phrase following the noun hand and removed from the verb it modifies; the third example has an adverb phrase embedded into a verb phrase was . . . hearing. Such flexibility makes it more difficult to identify these phrases; therefore, noting the head adverb can be of help."
    (Bernard O'Dwyer, Modern English Structures: Form, Function, and Position. Broadview, 2006)
Also Known As: AdvP, adverbial phrase

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