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Adverbs can be words, phrases, or clauses.
January 17, 2017

January 17, 2017


Our hometown is hosting an ice castle this winter. It's a magical wonderland full of slides, tunnels, and hidden rooms! Here is a picture of the four of us meeting the Disney characters Anna and Elsa. (Do you see tiny Lenora?)

English Grammar Revolution

In the last lesson, you learned that adjectives can be words, phrases, or clauses. In this lesson, you'll learn that the same is true for adverbs! Scroll down to the Grammar Time section to learn more and to see some sentence diagrams.

Happy Learning,

Elizabeth O'Brien

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English Grammar Revolution

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You probably remember that adverbs are one of the eight parts of speech, right, ? You probably also remember what adverbs do.

Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

One thing that you may not recall is that adverbs can be words, phrases, or clauses. It's true!

1. Adverbs - Words

Adverbs can be words.

James ran very quickly.


The words very and quickly are adverbs.

Quickly modifies the verb ran. It tells us how he ran. (How is one of the adverb questions.)

Very modifies the adverb quickly. It tells us how quickly he ran.

The sentence diagram helps you to see that very modifies quickly and quickly modifies ran.

2. Adverbs - Phrases

Phrases are groups of words without both a subject and a verb. They act as a single part of speech.

Although a phrase is made of multiple words, all of the words come together to perform one function in a sentence.

Look at this prepositional phrase functioning as an adverb.

James ran across the field.


Across the field is a prepositional phrase modifying the verb ran. It tells us where James ran. (Where is one of the adverb questions.)

In this sentence diagram, you can see that the prepositional phrase comes off the verb ran. That makes it easy to see that the phrase is modifying it.

3. Adverbs - Clauses

Clauses are groups of words with a subject and a verb. There are two different kinds of clauses: independent and dependent.

Do you remember how all of the words in a phrase come together to act as a single part of speech? The same is true for dependent clauses.

Adverbial clauses are a type of dependent clause. All of the words in the clause come together to function as an adverb.

James ran because I chased him.


Because I chased him is a group of words with a subject (I) and a verb (chased), and the whole clause is acting as an adverb modifying ran.

The adverb clause tells us why he ran. (Why is one of the adverb questions.)

Look at the sentence diagram again. Did you notice that the adverbial clause is connected to the verb ran with a dotted line? That makes it easy to see that the clause is modifying ran.

Would you like to learn more? You'll find these pages helpful.

Are you a teacher? Feel free to use this as a lesson plan in your classroom!

Click here to learn how to diagram sentences.

About Elizabeth

English Grammar Revolution

Elizabeth O'Brien is founder of, a company devoted to helping people learn and love grammar.

Through her website, books, and programs, Elizabeth shows people how to teach and learn grammar the easy way. She's on a mission to inspire and motivate people by making grammar fun and friendly.

If you liked today's issue, you'll love Elizabeth's grammar and sentence diagramming programs, which will help you learn or teach grammar through simple, step-by-step instructions and sentence diagrams.

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