When we speak about adverbials we have to start by saying that the adverbial element has a broader area of functions that the other four elements in a clause, that is to say, subject, verb, object and complement. In English grammar an adverbial is a single word or a group of words that generally modifies the verb and tell us an additional information abut time, place or manner of the action which is described in the rest of the sentence, for example:
Dan was succesfully finishing his exam essay when time ended up.
There can be more than one adverbial in a clause and they can be moved to different positions. The following examples illustate how adverbials can be put mainly in three positions:
1. Soon she wanted to go home. - This is the front-position. 2. I will certainly come to your birthday. – This is the mid-position. 3. Christopher did his driving exam badly. – This is the end-position.
According to “A student's grammar of the English language” by S. Greenbaum and R. Quirk, one of syntactic functions of adverbs is the adverbial function. In particular we can dstinguish between four tipes of adverbials: adjuncts, subjuncts, disjuncts and conjuncts. While adjuncts and subjuncts are more strictly related to the structure of the sentence (but the removal of one of this elements does still leave a grammatically well-formed clause), for example:
Suddenly he returned back to the office.
I haven't yet started my homework.
dijuncts and conjuncts meaning has a minor importance from the grammatical point of view. In fact, disjuncts usually express an assessment or a disagreement or a comment of the speaker about a specific topic:
Jane will probably arrive at 5.
Unfortunately, it wasn't a good show.
Bibliography: Greenbaum, S. and Quirk, R. (1990) Astudent 's Introduction to English Language. Harlow: Longman.
Christophersen, P. and Sandved, A. O. (1969) An advanced English Grammar. Macmillan.
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