What is an adverbial phrase? An adverbial phrase is a group of two or more words which act together like an adverb to add further detail to a verb, adjective, or other adverbs in a sentence.  

For example:

  • John ate his breakfast extremely quickly.

In this sentence, the adverbial phrase is ‘extremely quickly’.  The word ‘extremely’ is emphasising the quick pace at which John ate.  The sentence could have just contained one adverb, for example:

  • John ate his breakfast quickly.

Whilst this does still tell the reader how John ate his breakfast; the use of the adverbial phrase adds more detail to the sentence and suggests more about the character and plot of the story.

Words such as ‘really’, ‘more’, ‘very’ and ‘extremely’ are commonly used to form adverbial phrases by making the adverb they are paired with stronger.

Adverbial phrases answer questions such as how, why, when or where an action took place.  The example above informs the reader how John ate his breakfast.

When are children taught about adverbial phrases?

Children will be taught about noun phrases first from Year 2 onwards and will be encouraged to expand them using different adjectives in Years 3 and 4. For example:

  • ‘the red flower’ (noun phrase)
  • ‘the bright, beautiful red flower’ (expanded noun phrase).

Teachers will introduce children to prepositional phrases in Year 4.  These are phrases which express a proposition, such as ‘after several minutes’ or ‘in the afternoon’.

Children will most likely be encouraged to use adverbial phrases from Year 4 onwards.  Teachers will ask children to try and put adverbs and adverbial phrases in different places within their sentences to make their writing more interesting.

How to help children with adverbial phrases?

Teachers will provide children with word banks which list different adverbs so that they can refer to this when trying to improve their writing.

It can also be a helpful exercise to provide children with a list of sentences and ask them to underline which part of the sentence is an adverbial phrase. For example:

  • Mum made sure we left the house as fast as possible.

(answers ‘how’ they left)

  • She danced at the party all night long.

(answers ‘when’ she danced)

How does Learning Street help children with adverbial phrases?

Through our guided courses, children will be introduced to adverbial phrases, then extended to improve their knowledge and also have revision exercises to ensure that it isn’t forgotten.

Unlike books, the Learning Street courses will continually revisit adverbial phrases in order to keep the child’s development going, else they cannot obtain a secure knowledge.

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