Adverbials of distance

Level: elementary

We use prepositions to show how far things are:

Birmingham is 250 kilometres from London.
Birmingham is 250 kilometres away from London.
It is 250 kilometres from Birmingham to London.

Sometimes we use an adverbial of distance at the end of a clause:

We were in London. Birmingham was 250 kilometres away.
Birmingham was 250 kilometres off.
London and Birmingham are 250 kilometres apart.

Adverbials of distance 1


Adverbials of distance 2



Average: 3 (5 votes)

Submitted by Samin on Wed, 26/08/2020 - 17:46

Hello there Pls tell me if "to" is a preposition here or adverb? He forgot to take his wallet

Hi Samin,

In this example, to is the particle before the infinitive verb (take).

Some grammars consider this to be a preposition. But it's important to realise that it's not the same as to in the following examples.

  • I'm looking forward to seeing you.
  • She dedicated herself to teaching.
  • He used to be the captain but he's gone back to being a team member.

Notice that this preposition to shows the target of an action, and the following verb takes the -ing form. 

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user OlaIELTS

Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sat, 11/07/2020 - 03:56

It's really helpful.
Profile picture for user Last biker

Submitted by Last biker on Tue, 17/04/2018 - 05:09

Hi , Why in this clause we use : '' IT IS 250 kilometres from Birmingham to London '' instead ( because ''250 kilometres'' means much more than one kilometre , is plural ) '' THERE ARE 250 kilometres......'' ? ( ''there are'' or another form of plural ). Thank you very much for your answer
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 17/04/2018 - 05:56

In reply to by Last biker


Hi Last biker,

This is an example of what we call a dummy subject. The word 'it' does not actually refer to anything in particular, but rather means something like It is true that or The fact is that. We can use a plural noun after this and it is quite common. We often use it when talking about distance and time, but also in other contexts:

It was many years since I had last seen him.

It is fifteen kilometres to the town from here.

It is the pictures that remind me of her.

It was several meetings before we reached agreement.


You can read a little more about this topic here.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by José Estrella on Wed, 28/02/2018 - 22:22

Hi "The Learn English Team", I'd like to ask you about the answer to a question inquiring the distance from a place to another one. Here I go; A ask to B: "How far Amsterdam is from Paris?" B's answer: "It is 520 km away". I'm not a hundred per cent sure, but I think that answer is correct. Now my question: Could it be correct if B's answer should had been as follows: "It's 520." Thanks in advance for your time, Greetings. José Estrella.

Hi José,

Yes, the first answer is correct. 'It's 520' is not grammatically wrong, but it would be unusual unless B was repeating the distance after hearing A misunderstand it (e.g. A: How far is Amsterdam from Paris? B: It's 520 km away. A: 920 km away?! B: No, it's 520').

Otherwise, B should at least say 'kilometres' and really the most natural short answer would be just '520 kilometres' (without the subject and verb).

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team