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Adverbial Phrases KS2

What are adverbial phrases?

An adverbial phrase is a group of words that act as an adverb. They modify the main clause of a sentence. Adverbial phrases help to add more information to a sentence and thus help the reader better understand something.

Here are some examples of how adverbial phrases can be used to improve a base sentence:


BASE SENTENCE: I ate my breakfast (without an adverbial phrase)

I ate my breakfast very quickly. (with an adverbial phrase of manner)

I ate my breakfast before I had a shower. (with an adverbial phase of time)

I ate my breakfast in the kitchen. (with an adverbial phrase of place)

What are fronted adverbials?

Adverbial phrases are clever little things because they can actually move around in a sentence. When they are positioned at the start (or 'front') of a sentence, they are called 'fronted adverbials'.

Let's take those examples we just looked at and notice how they can easily become fronted adverbials:


Very quickly, I ate my breakfast.

Before I had a shower, I ate my breakfast.

In the kitchen, I ate my breakfast.


Did you notice what happens when we place the adverbial at the start of the sentence? You may have noticed that a comma is used to seperate the fronted adverbial from the main clause. Commas are normally used after fronted adverbials though this is not always the case.

Types of adverbial phrases  

Adverbial phrases can serve a range of different functions, some of which we will now explore.


1. Adverbial Phrases of Manner:

These are adverbial phrases that tell the reader how something was done.

Example: Tommy spoke about the school trip with enthusiasm.  

In the example above, the adverbial phrase tells us how Tommy spoke about his school trip.


2. Adverbial Phrases of Time:

These adverbial phrases tell the reader when something was done.

Example: The footballers celebrated after their victory.

In the example above, the adverbial phrase tells us when the footballers celebrated.


3. Adverbial Phrases of Place:

These adverbial phrases tell the reader where something was done.

Example: I mixed the paint in the garage. 

In the example above, the adverbial phrase tells the reader where I mixed the paint.


4. Adverbial Phrases of Purpose:

These adverbial phrases tell the reader why something was done.

Example: Nina travelled to the station to pick up her parents. 

In the example above, the adverbial phrase tells the reader the purpose of Nina's visit to the station.

What formats of adverbial phrases are there?  

There are three common formats of adverbial phrase:


1. Prepositional phrase

These are headed by a preposition (e.g. in, on, near, by, with).

Example: He is doing his homework in his bedroom.


2. Infinitive phrase

These are headed by an infinitive verb (e.g. to play, to jump)

Example: Fill in this form to go on the trip.


3. An adverb with an intensifier 

Example: She rode her bike very confidently.

What is an adverbial clause?  

An adverbial clause is a group of words that together function as an adverb. Adverbial clauses are always dependent clauses which means that they cannot stand alone as an independent sentence.

They are different to adverbial phrases in that they always contain a subject and a verb. Adverbial phrases do not.

Examples of adverbial clauses:

  • Michael eats his dinner faster than everyone else eats.
  • We thought, because the train has been so predictable lately, that the next one would come at 5:20.

When are children taught about adverbial phrases?  

Children are taught about adverbial phrases in KS2. Here is what the National Curriculum states about adverbial phrases ks2:


Lower KS2: Children should be taught to use adverbs and prepositions to express time and cause.

Lower KS2: Children should be taught to use fronted adverbials.

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