Adverb vs. Adverbial — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on September 25, 2023
An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb, while an adverbial is a word, phrase, or clause that functions as an adverb in a sentence.
Difference Between Adverb and Adverbial
Table of Contents
An adverb is a specific word class in English grammar. It primarily modifies or describes verbs, giving more information about how an action is performed. Adverbs can also modify adjectives or other adverbs, offering further detail.
On the other hand, adverbial is a broader term. It encompasses not only single adverbs but also phrases and clauses that play the role of adverbs in sentences. Essentially, anything that provides additional context about the verb can be an adverbial.
Examples of adverbs include "quickly," "gently," and "often." These words directly provide more insight into the action or state they're describing. For instance, in the sentence "She sang beautifully," "beautifully" is an adverb modifying "sang."
Adverbial phrases and clauses, however, consist of more than one word. For instance, "in a hurry" in "He left in a hurry" is an adverbial phrase. Similarly, in "She sings whenever she showers," "whenever she showers" is an adverbial clause.
While both adverbs and adverbials modify other elements within sentences, adverbs are standalone words, and adverbials can be a combination of words functioning as an adverb.
A word that modifies verbs, adjectives, or adverbs
Any word, phrase, or clause functioning as an adverb
Quickly, softly, often
In the morning, very slowly, as if he knew
Can be a word, phrase, or clause
Position in Sentence
Flexible but often near the verb
Varies depending on type and context
Functional role within a sentence
Compare with Definitions
Indicates manner of action.
She whispered softly.
Can describe a place or direction.
They live down the street.
Modifies an adjective.
He is extremely tall.
Can be a single adverb.
He runs quickly.
Provides frequency details.
They often visit the museum.
Might be a phrase giving temporal context.
She visits every summer.
A word that describes or gives more information about a verb.
She runs quickly.
A word or group of words functioning as an adverb.
They left in a rush.
Shows degree or extent.
It's quite interesting.
Provides a reason or condition.
He shouted as if he were scared.
An adverb is a word or an expression that modifies he a verb, adjective, another adverb, determiner, clause, preposition, or sentence. Adverbs typically express manner, place, time, frequency, degree, level of certainty, etc., answering questions such as how?, in what way?, when?, where?, and to what extent?.
In grammar, an adverbial (abbreviated adv) is a word (an adverb) or a group of words (an adverbial clause or adverbial phrase) that modifies or more closely defines the sentence or the verb. (The word adverbial itself is also used as an adjective, meaning "having the same function as an adverb".) Look at the examples below: Danny speaks fluently.
A word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, quite, then, there).
A word or phrase functioning as a major clause constituent and typically expressing place (in the garden), time (in May), or manner (in a strange way).
The part of speech that modifies a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or an entire clause or sentence.
Relating to or functioning as an adverb or adverbial.
Any of the words belonging to this part of speech, such as so, very, and rapidly.
Of, relating to, or being an adverb.
(grammar) A word that modifies a verb, adjective, other adverbs, or various other types of words, phrases, or clauses.
An adverbial element or phrase.
(programming) In the Raku programming language, a named parameter that modifies the behavior of a routine.
(grammar) Of or relating to an adverb.
(rare) To make into or become an adverb.
(grammar) An adverbial word or phrase.
A word used to modify the sense of a verb, participle, adjective, or other adverb, and usually placed near it; as, he writes well; paper extremely white.
Of or pertaining to an adverb; of the nature of an adverb; as, an adverbial phrase or form.
The word class that qualifies verbs or clauses
A word or group of words function as an adverb
A word that modifies something other than a noun
Of or relating to or functioning as an adverb;
What's the primary role of an adverb?
An adverb primarily modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb.
Is "in the morning" an adverb or adverbial?
"In the morning" is an adverbial phrase.
How do I identify an adverb in a sentence?
Adverbs often end in "-ly", provide details about actions, or indicate frequency or manner.
Can an adverbial be just one word?
Yes, an adverbial can be a single adverb or a more complex phrase or clause.
Can adverbs modify nouns?
No, adverbs don't modify nouns; adjectives do.
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Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.