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Adverbials provide the reader with more information about ‘how’, ‘where’, ‘when’ or ‘why’ something has happened.

  The princess smiled smugly. (how/manner using a single word adverb)

  The children left the room in silence. (how/manner using an adverbial phrase)

  The fish darted through the coral. (how/manner using an adverbial phrase which is a simile)

  The dragon flew beyond the snow-capped mountains. (where/direction)

  The dragon waited in his cave. (where/position)

  The rider reached his destination by the end of the day. (when/time)

  The maid collected water every day. (frequency/time)

  The postman walked for six hours. (duration/time)

One flexible feature of adverbials is that they can often be placed in different positions within a sentence. Invariably some positions ‘sound’ better than others; they flow more naturally because that is the position in which they usually occur. Sometimes we alter the positions to create effect for the reader:

  •  Mysteriously, the ship disappeared into the fog.
  •   The ship disappeared mysteriously into the fog.
  •  The ship disappeared into the fog, mysteriously.
  •   Into the fog, the ship mysteriously disappeared.One particularly effective aspect of word order flexibility when using adverbials is the possibility of inverting subject and object in a sentence which starts with an adverbial of place or a fronted adverbial.
  •  Under the thick, green growth lurked the crocodile.
  •   Over the hills, through the forests and beyond the river flew the silver dragon.

Complex, compound and simple sentences.

A simple sentence has the most basic elements that make it a sentence: a subject, a verb, and a completed thought.

.e.g. The train was late.

A compound sentence refers to a sentence made up of two independent clauses (or complete sentences) connected to one another with a coordinating conjunction.

.e.g. Joe waited for the train but the train was late.

Complex sentences

A complex sentence is made up of an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses connected to it. A dependent clause is similar to an independent clause, or complete sentence, but it lacks one of the elements that would make it a complete sentence.

Examples of dependent clauses include the following:

  • because Mary and Samantha arrived at the bus station before noon
  • while he waited at the train station

Dependent clauses such as those above cannot stand alone as a sentence, but they can be added to an independent clause to form a complex sentence.

.e.g. Because Mary and Samantha arrived at the bus station before noon, I did not see them at the station.

Follow this link to see the full glossary of grammatical language:


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