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

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Adverbials of distance 2

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

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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,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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

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

In reply to by Last biker

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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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Delta on Thu, 28/12/2017 - 06:38

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Hello The LearnEnglish Team, I'm confused about question 3: "From Gibraltar the African coast is visible only 14 miles away." I guess there are some words omitted from this sentence. Could you please explain its meaning to me?

Hello Delta,

I don't think there are any words missing there though you could say that there is a reduced relative clause:

From Gibraltar the African coast, which is only 14 miles away, is visible.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by fahri on Tue, 22/11/2016 - 16:50

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Hello dear team, You said: Why do we use adverbials? We use adverbs to give more information about "the verb". But from your example above : You said: Birmingham is 250 kilometres from London. Birmingham is 250 kilometres away from London. It is 250 kilometres from Birmingham to London. My question is: where the verb from those examples???

Hello fahri,

Adverbials are used in a number of ways and to given information about the verb is only one of these. For example, we can use an adverb to make an adjective stronger, such as 'very' or 'really'. You cannot reduce the role of adverbials in the this way - that is why we have a whole section on the topic.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by grammar2015 on Thu, 11/06/2015 - 03:48

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Hi all May I know the function of '250 kilometers' in the sentence above . Away, from, awsy from and Off are the adverbials of distance indicated above. 250 kilometers follows a linking verb , 'is and was.' Does it complenent the subject as an adjective? Or is it adverbial of place? Every word has a role in a sentence. The more one is able to identify the role of a word ,element clause the better ones knowledge in English grammar. That is what I want to know.

Submitted by paeng on Mon, 08/06/2015 - 04:44

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Thanks for your questions and The learn English team's recommendations. I found out a lot of useful information to improve my English skills. take care of yourselves, paeng

Submitted by Cesar98 on Tue, 26/05/2015 - 12:32

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"We were in London, Birmingham was 250 kilometres away." The distance between London and Birmingham is a facts which is permanent unchanged, why they put "was" in this sentence?

Hello Cear98,

It would be fine to use the present simple here but these sentences are clearly part of a story or anecdote and we normally use past forms (narrative tenses) to tell stories, and maintain a consistent time reference. So, while you could say 'were... is...' it is normal to maintain the same time reference and say 'were... was'.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vidyaarthi on Sun, 27/10/2013 - 13:54

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Hi, why is from Honolulu to Tokyo wrong?
Hi Vidyaarthi, I would be fine, except for the fact that there is a full stop after Honolulu! Best wishes, Peter The LearnEnglish Team
hi Peter, should thank you, but too busy cursing myself for not noticing that!

Submitted by Niva bose on Thu, 21/03/2013 - 08:05

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sir 

If I write " Madrid is 501 km from away Lisbon " instead of Lisbon is 501 km away from Madrid... what is the wrong?

Hello Niva!

 

We simply don't write 'from away' in English - we use away from to show distance.

 

Hope that helps!

 

Regards

 

Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tharanga Lakshan on Sat, 09/03/2013 - 12:24

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hi...  i'm tharanga......

Submitted by yomnamango on Wed, 06/02/2013 - 15:05

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when i open exercise, this content appear i cant reach exercise like other parts of grammar book.......... {Adverbs of place: distance There are no clues for this activity. Reorder the words to make correct sentences. It is 6,200 kilometers from Tokyo to Honolulu. Lisbon is 501 kilometers away from Madrid. From Gibraltar the African coast is visible only 14 miles away. Shanghai and Beijing are 1200 kilometers apart. Paris is 5,800 kilometers from New York. HTTP://c1364652.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/assets_green.swf } when i open this link it doesn't work

Hello,

You asked about problems with the exercises on another page - I answered your question there.

Best wishes,

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Bora Farruku on Sun, 27/01/2013 - 20:22

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Submitted by Musatina on Sat, 25/02/2012 - 23:48

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Hello guys, i'm Silvana from Romania.

Why it's not right the sentence from the test like this : From Gibraltar the only visible African coast is 14 miles away? please i need an answer.

Well spotted, Silvana and Carlospg94! The exercise will only accept one of the right answers – but your answer is grammatically good! However, the meaning is a bit different. If you ever go to Gibraltar, you will see a lot of the African coast, not just the bit 14 miles away. This means that you can't use 'only', because much more of the coast is visible.

There is at least one more grammatically correct sentence the program won't accept... Can you find it?

Hope that helps!

Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by garap on Wed, 18/01/2012 - 20:02

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