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Adverbials: in-service training sessions


In-service training is the point at which people need to come to terms with adverbials rather than just treating them as either adverbs or prepositional phrases.

There is no revision task for this section (although you may like to remind people of the distinction between an adverb and a prepositional phrase).  That's fairly easily done by comparing:
    He went aboard
    He went to the gym
The reason for this is that the area is almost never handled on pre-service courses and only slowly becomes the focus of people's teaching in a rather haphazard manner.


The key ideas

These are the areas on which these worksheets focus.  A session of between 2 and 3 hours should be enough to cover the essentials and give people the tools they need to focus on certain aspects of the area for an assignment.
It will not be enough in itself, of course.

  • Adverb or adverbial
  • Types of non-adverb adverbial
  • Adjuncts
  • Disjuncts
  • Conjuncts

The aim of all of this is to give trainees the essential data they need to be able to recognise the range of adverbial constructions in English and what they do.


Adverb or adverbial?

This is the first thing to get clear.  The contrast is actually quite simple and the essential idea is that all adverbs are adverbial but not all adverbials are adverbs.


Without introducing the terminology at this stage, the first task on the worksheet is an awareness-raising exercise to get people to work in the categories they will need later.
It will also get people thinking about what adverbials do and how they are formed.

The second task on the worksheet focuses on the grammar and requires a little thought.
Example 15 is obviously answering the question why but the adverbial is a complex combination of a prepositional phrase and a clause.  Example 2 is a non-finite participle form (not a gerund).  The phrases this morning and next door are noun phrases, not prepositional.
Only examples 6 and 11 contain adverbs.

For the purposes of this, it is not necessary, unless you want to, to distinguish between adjuncts and disjuncts or prepositional phrase adverbials but there are examples of each in the tasks.

The second worksheet looks a bit harder at the forms and meanings.  It is intended to distinguish between adjuncts, disjuncts and conjuncts.


The first task concerns identifying which is which.  Note, here, that example 5 contains an adjunct (and not a disjunct because the adverbial only modifies the verb came).  The disjunct examples are numbers 2, 6 and 7 which modify the whole clause and are, therefore, sometimes called sentence adverbials.  Examples 3 and 9 are conjuncts.
The second task requires people to match the function of adjuncts to the example sentences.  The answers are:

  1. Time (temporal) adjunct clause
  2. Sequencing adverb
  3. Amplifying adverb
  4. Focusing adverb (or you can call it a limiter)
  5. Place (spatial) prepositional phrase
  6. Place (spatial) prepositional phrase
  7. Approximating adverb phrase
  8. Downtoning adverb
  9. Subject adverb

The third task does the same with disjuncts and the fourth with conjuncts.
For task 3, it is worth noting that it is not always easy to see whether a disjunct concerns style or attitude but the key here is:
    Style: Examples 1 and 4 (in sentence 1, the speaker wishes to state that the statement is truthful and in sentence 4 the same claim is made)
    Attitude: Examples 2 and 3 (in sentence 2, the speaker makes it plain that the statement is limited by topic and in sentence 3 that the fact is plain to see)

Task 4 answers are:

  1. Infer / Assume
  2. Enumerate
  3. Equate
  4. Concede
  5. Replace
  6. Show result
  7. Change the subject
  8. Add / Reinforce
  9. Sum up (x2)
  10. Rephrase
  11. Explain / Exemplify

An extension is to get the participants to think of two more examples in each category.  See the guide for some ideas.


Related areas

Adverbials are treated at length in the in-service guides and the index to the area is linked below.

Related guides
adverbials this is a long guide considering adjuncts in detail
the in-service guides for the in-service index of syntax
A-Z index where you can find guides to or containing specific concepts and terms