Where adverbials go in a sentence

Level: beginner

We normally put adverbials after the verb:

He spoke angrily.
They live just here.
We will go in a few minutes.

If the verb has an object or complement we put the adverbial after the object or complement:

He opened the door quietly.
She left the money on the table.
We saw our friends last night.
You are looking tired tonight.

But adverbials of frequency (how often) usually come in front of the main verb:

We usually spent our holidays with our grandparents.
I have never seen William at work.

If we want to emphasise an adverbial, we can put it at the beginning of a clause:

Last night we saw our friends.
In a few minutes we will go.
Very quietly he opened the door.

If we want to emphasise an adverb of manner, we can put it in front of the main verb:

He quietly opened the door.
She had carefully put the glass on the shelf.

Where adverbials go in a sentence 1

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Where adverbials go in a sentence 2

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raphway 提交于 周五, 21/02/2020 - 10:15

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"Corruption is very widespread" Hello, is the above sentence correct please?

Hello raphway

Yes, that is grammatically correct. Well done!

Best wishes

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

amrita_enakshi 提交于 周一, 21/01/2019 - 12:16

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Sir Can an adverb of degree qualify an adverb of time? Ex: We started rather early for the camp. As per my understanding , rather is ( ad of degree) and early is (ad of time). Kindly explain. Thank you.

Kirk 提交于 周一, 21/01/2019 - 18:29

amrita_enakshi 回复

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Hi amrita_enakshi

Yes, 'rather early', 'very early', etc. are all correct -- adverbs like 'rather' and 'very' are often called intensifiers since they strengthen the meanings of other words or phrases.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

SajadKhan 提交于 周一, 16/07/2018 - 12:33

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Hi there, In task one there is a sentence, "I don’t USUALLY watch football on TV,.. ". I did it wrong because I thought 'Usually' should come before don't i.e "I usually don't watch football on TV.. " is this correct too? and if it is, then is there some different between the two or they mean same? Regards

Hi SajadKhan,

Adverbs of frequency (like 'usually') usually go in front of the main verb. In the sentence you ask about, 'watch' is the main verb and 'don't' is the auxiliary verb, which is why the correct answer is what it is. That said, your version of the sentence is not exactly wrong; it's just not the standard location for the adverb. There is no difference in meaning between the two, though sometimes putting the adverb at the beginning of the sentence gives it more emphasis -- though in such a case it is usually the first word.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I suppose what you have explained here are the ground rules we put the adverbials "after the object or complement" (the second instance in the text above) : He opened the door quietly. Following the rule, you have placed 'quietly' in the end. If this is the case then do you think the following sentence is correct? "He said goodnight to her and quietly shut the bedroom door." In this particular sentence, 'quietly' has been placed before the object. Please help. As a matter of fact, I am always confused when it comes to using a preposition at a proper place. If you see, I have written a sentence within the bracket and have placed 'above' in the end. Is this correct?

Hello mou,

The position of adverbs in the sentence is quite flexible. For example, all of these sentence are correct:

He opened the door quietly.

He quietly opened the door.

Quietly, he opened the door.

In certain contexts (such as literary works) other positions may even be possible, though unusual. However, certain positions are more common than others and so we indicate these on the page (normally, usually, we can...).

The preposition 'above' in your sentence is correct. It comes after 'text' because it describes the position of the text. There is an implied object after the preposition: ...the text above this.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

XuMinHa 提交于 周日, 04/03/2018 - 13:15

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Hi In Mr. Peter M replied on 12 February, 2018, he said :You can use 'only' in several ways : You should only speak to him. You only should speak to him. You should speak to him only / to only him. So why is this sentence just only said that You should only take the red pills, not the blue ones. not You only should take the red pills, not the blue ones. Why is that? Please explain it to me. Thanks

Peter M. 提交于 周一, 05/03/2018 - 07:13

XuMinHa 回复

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Hi XuMinHa,

The normal word order - the natural word order in almost all contexts - is with the adverb 'only' before the main verb:

You should only take the red pills, not the blue ones.

 

Other positions are possible, but they are unusual and require a particular contexts or intentions. Unless this is somehow indicated then the 'standard' word order should be used. In other words, we use the word order above unless we need to emphasise a particular meaning.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

pumbi 提交于 周日, 11/02/2018 - 20:06

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Hi Sir, "I think that you also should quit smoking." "We only have a very small garden." You only have to look at the statistics to see that things are getting worse. But most of the grammar books say that "also, only etc" words should come after the modal or auxiliary verbs. Actually, is it a fixed rule?. If so are these sentences wrong?. Please explain the right syntax and usage.

Hi pumbi,

It is correct that adverbs such as 'also', 'only', 'just' and so on generally come after modal verbs:

You should only take the red pills, not the blue ones.

not

You only should take the red pills, not the blue ones.

 

However, your examples do not fit your rule. Your second example uses 'have' as a main verb and so the adverb is in the correct place. If you use 'have got' then the position changes:

We only have a very small garden.

We have only got a very small garden.

 

In your third example you use the verb 'have to', which is not considered a modal (it is sometimes called a 'semi-modal'). Unlike modal verbs it is followed by an infinitive with 'to' and uses auxiliaries to form negatives and questions rather than simply adding 'not' or inverting the word order.

 

Further, the rule you quote is not fixed. The position of the adverb is quite flexible and depends on the meaning we intend. You can use 'only' in several ways:

You should only speak to him. [do no more than speak]

You only should speak to him. [no-one else should do this]

You should speak to him only / to only him. [not to anyone else]

 

We can see similar options in your first example:

I also think that you should quit smoking. [I share this opinion]

I think that you also should quit smoking. [someone has quit and so should you]

I think that you should also quit smoking. [you have done something and you should quit smoking as well as this]

 

It is a complex area. I hope these comments help to clarify it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Malinali 提交于 周五, 11/08/2017 - 21:19

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Hello In the sentence "the minister angrily refused to answer any more of the journalists' questions''. Why is correct? In the lesson you said

Hello Malinali,

Could you please make your question more specific? We're happy to help but we ask that you ask specific questions.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

What is the correct answer? Do you often play soccer? Yes, I (A) often play (B) play often (C) do often (D) often do

Hello aleiajpy,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers to tasks from elsewhere. If we did then then we would end up doing people's homework or tests for them, and that is not our role.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Ricardo A 提交于 周三, 22/03/2017 - 19:17

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This sentence is correct? I never have seen William at work.

Hello Ricardo,

The word order needs to be changed -- it should be: 'I have never seen William at work.'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Allessya 提交于 周二, 14/02/2017 - 13:49

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Dear Kirk, Thank you so much for your quick and detailed answer!) Have a nice day!

Allessya 提交于 周一, 13/02/2017 - 23:22

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Hello, explain me the correct word order: 1 He works in a hospital as a doctor or 2 He works as a doctor in a hospital My grammar book teaches me to use the first variant. But I learned before that we need to use the adverb of manner (I mean "as a doctor") and then the adverb of place ("in a hospital") I hope you understand me)

Hello Allessya,

Both sentences are correct. The position of adverbial phrases is flexible and depends a lot on context. For example, imagine that we are talking about your friend who is a doctor (and works in a hospital) and also a professor (and works at a university). If I misunderstood where he works as a doctor and asked 'Is he seeing any patients at the university today?', you could correct my misunderstanding with sentence 1, with emphasis on the word 'hospital' to show me the error I made.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Andrew international 提交于 周四, 02/02/2017 - 18:02

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DearSir Please explain this to me: The mayor declared open the lab. The mayor declared opened the lab (is this wrong) I think this is wrong . The first is correct but why the second is wrong; (if it is wrong). Thank you Regards Andrew international

Peter M. 提交于 周五, 03/02/2017 - 09:10

Andrew international 回复

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Hello Andrew international,

The direct object with 'declare' usually follows the verb:

declare the lab open

declare the lab opened

The first example tells us about the state of the lab - the adjective 'open' describes the lab. The second example uses a participle and has a passive meaning. It tells us that the lab has been opened by someone (possibly the speaker). Thus we can say, for example:

The doctor declared the man dead. [adjective]

The police declared the man murdered. [participle - passive meaning]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I'd like to ask if we can use "through" with the meaning "because of". Is it natural to use such form? Are there some exceptions, when we should't use it? Thanks

Peter M. 提交于 周二, 18/10/2016 - 06:54

Liza 回复

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Hi Liza,

It's easier for us to comment if you can provide an example sentence using the structure. I think the use you are thinking about does not exactly mean 'because of' but rather 'thanks to' or 'as a result of'. In other words, it does not describe the person's reason so much as what makes something possible:

Through his training, he was able to survive.

Thanks to/As a result of his training, he was able to survive.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello there, If I rephrase the following question from the exercise, would it be still grammatically correct? 'The minister ANGRILY refused to answer any more of the journalists’ questions.' (rephrase) 'The minister refused ANGRILY to answer any more of the journalists’ questions.' Also, I think the following question 'Hilary went into a cafe and ordered QUICKLY a cup of coffee' is correct because we should put the adverbials after the verb. I know for emphasis we can put the adverbial before the main verb. Additionally, do you think I have structured the following sentence correclty 'If I rephrase the following question from the exercise, would it be still grammatically correct? As always, thank you for your help. Kind Regards, SK

Hello SK,

The position of adverbs is a tricky matter, as different kinds of adverbs tend to go in different positions. It's rather a lot for me to go into here, but there is a useful page on this in the Cambridge Dictionary that I'd recommend you take a look at.

To answer your specific questions, your first and second rephrasals are not incorrect, though they sound unusual, i.e. the adverbs sound more natural in the other positions. And yes, your question is structured correctly and sounds natural – good work!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team 

wenzhang66 提交于 周五, 23/09/2016 - 01:08

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Hi, may l ask why we need to remember the sentences from task 1 for finish task 2 ?

Hi wenzhang66,

Different people learn in different ways and this kind of activity requires memorisation, which can be a very helpful process for some learners in internalising structures and lexis.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I am confused about the use of comma before " too". So, would you please explain to me when the comma is used before it and when it is not. Regards Abdullah

Peter M. 提交于 周日, 14/02/2016 - 11:36

zagrus 回复

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Hi Abdullah,

I'm afraid I can't list a series of rules for you on this. A lot of it is stylistic, and optional rather than fixed. Perhaps you have a particular sentence or two (not a list of ten, please!) which you'd like to ask about. If so, we'll be happy to comment.

 


Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

MayelaM 提交于 周四, 17/09/2015 - 21:39

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May you please explain the order of the adverbs in the phrase "I have been trying to learn the language since 2000, but only recently have I been able to make some real progress" as well as the place of the subject pronoun in the secondary part of the phrase (have I been)? Thanks

Hello Mayela,

What's happening with the word order in the second part is called 'inversion'. After some phrases (especially ones that have a negative or restricting meaning, e.g. 'hardly', not only', 'only then', 'only recently', etc.) the normal word order of subject + verb is inverted, i.e. becomes verb + subject. When the verb has more than one word, only the auxiliary verb is inverted – this is the case with 'only recently have (auxiliary verb) I (subject) been able to make (rest of the verb).

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team 

Where adverbials go in a sentence 1 Are the sentences correct or wrong? 1. The builders are working REALLY SLOWLY. When will they be finished? a. correct b. wrong The above question on task one is not correctly marked. Upon filling that the question as wrong the marking scheme says it is right. How ever i believe it is wrong as where the adverbials go in a sentence should not be capitalised. so t ought to read 1. The builders are working really slowly. When will they be finished? When I go to question two the instruction at the top still reads "Where adverbials go in a sentence 1 Are the sentences correct or wrong?" note the words " in a sentence 1" despite being at sentence two which still has capital letters, the sentence is wrong as the result marker indication is true that the sentence is wrong. I.E Where adverbials go in a sentence 1 Are the sentences correct or wrong? 2. Liam lived in Paris for a year so he speaks QUITE WELL French. a. correct b. wrong ETC Please check out the entire task 1 and review and we will skip task two in the mean time and go through it on our study.

Hello Githuga,

The adverbial is capitalised here to make identification easier for users. We assume that users will recognise this as it is quite a common convention in English to do so and, in our experience, it has not proved to be a problem for our users.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

adtyagrwl3 提交于 周四, 16/07/2015 - 15:18

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Dear Sir, What does it mean to say "I have never seen William at work" Does it mean that the speaker has never seen William doing work, or the speaker has never seen William at the place where he works?

hello adtyagrwl3,

It could mean either of those things, depending on the context, but the second is by far the more likely. If the speaker wanted to express the first meaning then 'I've never seen William working' would be much more likely.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

shadyar 提交于 周四, 27/11/2014 - 09:40

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Hello kirk, Thank you for reply.Therefore my two sentences seem strange and better not to use them.

shadyar 提交于 周一, 24/11/2014 - 05:46

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Hello, I have a question about the place of adverbs of frequency.According to the above instruction we put adv of frequency in front of verb.So if we want to make a negative sentence do we put them in front of the verb?For example, I don't almost always watch TV at night. Or it is better to put them at the end of the sentence.I don't watch TV at night almost always.If the first one is wrong please tell it's reason. Thank You

Hi shadyar,

In general, adverbs of frequency go before verbs (except 'be') whether they are affirmative or negative (e.g. 'I normally watch the news' or 'I don't normally watch the news'), though with some adverbs other positions are possible.

'almost always' with a negative verb could be used to refute a false claim, but otherwise sounds strange. If you want to describe your TV habits and you only rarely watch TV at night, I'd recommend something like 'I almost never watch TV at night' instead.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

colonyhari 提交于 周二, 07/10/2014 - 03:04

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Hello sir, "My friends come to my home often." "Usually my friends come to my home." These sentence are correct.

Hello colonyhari,

Yes. Adverbs of indefinite frequency (e.g. often, normally, usually, often, etc.) are most common in mid-position, i.e. before or around the verb, but can also go in front position (i.e. at the beginning of the sentence) and also end position (at the end), especially if they are the most relevant information in the sentence.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sokhom Kim 提交于 周日, 05/10/2014 - 11:04

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Hello I wanted to ask you a question. Can an adverb modify a noun? Could you please give me some examples? Thank you very much.

Hello Sokhom Kim,

No, an adverb cannot modify a noun directly. Adverbs can add information to verbs or to adjectives, but not nouns.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

But Sir, "Only John came last night." In this sentence the adverb 'Only' modify the noun 'John' directly... What you say about this ??

Hello RubeL G,

'Only' can be both an adverb and an adjective. Where it modifies a noun, it is functioning as an adjective.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Is actually weekend a single word?