Adverb phrases

An adverb phrase is a phrase with an adverb as the Head word. The Head adverb can occur alone or with modifiers, i.e. other words which expand the phrase, for example:

  • energetically
  • very energetically
  • much too energetically
  • more energetically than before

Note that the National Curriculum stipulates that phrases should have at least two words, though it concedes in the entry for noun phrases that "Some grammarians recognise one-word phrases."

Here are some examples in sentences. The adverb phrase is marked in square brackets and the Head word is highlighted:

  • In my chair I can get there [fairly quickly]. [S1A-003 #109]
  • But it was [almost completely] ignored. [S2B-049 #23]
  • [Much later] I sat out on the balcony in the dark. [W2F-013 #159]

These examples show a common pattern of degree adverb + Head adverb. The degree adverb tells us to what degree the Head adverb applies.

Here are some examples showing other patterns:

  • Undoubtedly dance music has taken sampling on board [far faster than any other musical genre]. [S2B-023 #37]
  • Most of Northern France is drab, and we usually travel through it [as quickly as possible]. [W1B-014 #12]
  • [Happily for the Tottenham supporters], Vinnie Samways is fit and well. [S2A-015 #103]


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