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Introduction to adjuncts - Position of adjuncts


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Verb forms and the formation of verb groups
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Introduction to adjuncts

1 When you are talking about an event or situation, you sometimes want to say something about it which has not been indicated by the subject, verb, object, or complement. You can do this by using an adjunct.

An adjunct is a word or group of words which you add to a clause when you want to say something about the circumstances of an event or situation, for example when it occurs, how it occurs, how much it occurs, or where it occurs.

I was soon lost.

She laughed quietly.

She was tremendously impressed.

He fumbled in his pocket.

In other grammars, adjuncts are sometimes called adverbials, adverb phrases, or adverbial phrases.

adverbial groups 2 The two main types of adjuncts are adverbial groups and prepositional phrases. Adverbial groups usually consist of adverbs.

He acted very clumsily.

I cannot speak too highly of their courage and skill.

He takes his job very seriously indeed.

He did not play well enough throughout the week to deserve to win.

However, adverbs very often occur on their own.

I shook her gently.

He greatly admired Cezanne.

The production was scarcely noticed by the press.

The number will probably be higher than we expected.

For more information about adverbs, see the section beginning at paragraph 1

prepositional phrases 3 Adjuncts consisting of a preposition and a noun group, such as 'in a box' and 'to the station', are called prepositional phrases. The most basic use of prepositional phrases is to indicate position and direction, so they are dealt with in detail at the section on place beginning at paragraph 53.

Large cushions lay on the floor.

The voice was coming from my apartment.

noun groups 4 Occasionally, noun groups can also be used as adjuncts.

He was looking really ill this time yesterday.

'There's a massive market that side of the water,' he says, gesturing out of his window.

I'm going to handle this my way.

When noon groups are used as adjuncts, they are most often adjuncts of time, which are dealt with in Chapter Noun groups as adjuncts of place are dealt with at paragraph 101, as adjuncts of manner at paragraph 44, and as adjuncts of degree at paragraph 52.

For more information on noun groups in general, see Chapters 1 and 2.

5 The most common way in which adverbial groups give additional information is by adding something to the meaning of a verb group within a clause.

He nodded and smiled warmly.

The report says that hospitals and rescue services coped extremely well.

Nevertheless, he does dramatize pretty faithfully this Joan of Arc period.

Prepositional phrases have a wider range of meanings.

It was estimated that at least 2,000 people were on the two trains.

Kenny Stuart came second, knocking two minutes off his previous best time.

Unemployment has fallen below two million for the first time since 1980.

Many intransitive verbs normally require an adjunct. See paragraph 3.11 for more information about these.

Ashton had behaved abominably.

She turned and rushed out of the room.

Some transitive verbs normally require an adjunct after the object of the verb. For more information about these, see paragraph 3.20.

I put my hand on the door.

6 Adjuncts can also add meaning to a whole clause, for example by giving the writer's or speaker's comment on it. For more information, see the section on sentence adjuncts beginning at paragraph 10.5

Obviously crime is going to be squeezed in a variety of ways.

Fortunately, the damage had been slight.

Ideally the dairy should have a concrete or tiled floor.

No doubt she loves Gertrude too.

They can also indicate the way in which one clause is linked to another clause. For more information, see the section on linking adjuncts beginning at paragraph 10.73.

Manufacturers are developing engines which use less fuel and therefore pump out less toxic gas.

Position of adjuncts

7 The position of adjuncts within clauses is flexible, allowing many changes of emphasis and focus.

Adjuncts are normally placed at the end of the clause after the verb group, or after an object or complement if there is one.

She packed carefully.

They would go on talking for hours.

I enjoyed the course immensely.

These employers were famous for their meanness.

8 You can emphasize the adjunct by placing it at the beginning of the clause, in front of the subject.

Gently Fanny leaned forward and wiped the old lady's tears away.

In his excitement Billy had forgotten the letter.

The adjunct is often separated by a comma from the rest of the clause.

After much discussion, they had decided to take the coin to the jeweller.

This position is often used in written stories to draw attention to the adjunct. For more information, see paragraph 10.93.

Note that adverbs of degree are rarely used at the beginning of a clause: see paragraph 4

between subject and verb 9 Adjuncts can also be placed between the subject and the main verb. This focuses on the adjunct more than when it is at the end of the clause, but not as much as putting it at the beginning of the clause. However, this position is much more common with adverbs than with prepositional phrases.

I quickly became aware that she was looking at me.

We often swam in the surf.

He carefully wrapped each component in several layers of foam rubber.

They happily tolerated the existence of opinions contrary to their own.

Note that in verb groups containing auxiliaries, the adjunct is still placed in front of the main verb.

I had almost forgotten about the trip.

We will never have enough money to provide all the services that people want.

It would not in any case be for him.

Long adjuncts in this position are usually separated by commas from the rest of the clause.

Fred, in his own way, was a great actor.

Adjuncts of place rarely occur in this position. For more information about adjuncts of place, see the section beginning at paragraph 53.

10 Some adjuncts are often placed in front of the main verb:

most adverbs of indefinite frequency (see paragraph 114)


















some adverbs of indefinite time (see paragraph 41)











some adverbs of degree (see paragraph 45), especially emphasizing adverbs (see paragraph 49)




















focusing adverbs, when modifying a verb: see paragraph 10.90.







Note that some adjuncts have a different reference when placed in front of the main verb rather than at the end of the clause:

The Trade Unions have acted foolishly.

Baldwin had foolishly opened the door.

The first example means that the Unions acted in a foolish way. The second example means that opening the door was a foolish action, and not that the door was opened in a foolish way.

In some areas, like Islington in London, the drivers are paid generously.

Cram generously admitted afterwards that 'he's still faster than me'.

The first example tells us how well the drivers are paid, the second example indicates that Cram's admission was a generous action.

11 If the verb is a 'to'-infinitive, you usually put adjuncts after it, or after the object or complement if there is one.

He tried to leave quietly.

Thomas made an appointment to see him immediately.

Some people do put adverbs between the 'to' and the infinitive, but this use is not considered correct by some speakers of English.

'My wife told me to probably expect you,' he said.

Vauxhall are attempting to really break into the market.

12 If a clause has two adjuncts, and one is an adverb and the other is a prepositional phrase, you can usually place either of them first.

Miss Burns looked calmly at Marianne.

They were sitting happily in the car.

The women shouted at me savagely.

He got into the car quickly and drove off.

However, if the prepositional phrase is rather long, it is more common to place the adverb first, immediately after the verb.

He listened calmly to the report of his aides.

She would sit crosslegged in her red robes.

Similarly, if the verb group is followed by a long object, the adverb comes after the verb and before the object.

He could picture easily the consequences of being found by the owners.

She sang beautifully a school song the children had taught her when they were little.

13 In clauses with more than one adjunct, the meaning of the adjuncts can also affect their order. The usual order is adjunct of manner, then adjunct of place, then adjunct of time.

They knelt quietly in the shadow of the rock.

I tried to reach you at home several times.

He was imprisoned in Cairo in January 194

Parents may complain that their child eats badly at meals.

The youngsters repeat this in unison at the beginning of each session.

However, if a clause contains an adverb of manner and an adverb of direction such as 'down', 'out', or 'home', the adverb of direction is usually put in front of the adverb of manner.

Lomax drove home fast.

I reached down slowly.

14 Adjuncts of different types can be placed together, sometimes separated by a comma, but adjuncts of the same type, for example two adjuncts of manner, are usually linked by conjunctions such as 'and' and 'but', or structures such as 'rather than'. For more information about linking adjuncts with conjunctions, see paragraphs 8.176 and 8.180.

She sang clearly and beautifully.

They help to combat the problem at source, rather than superficially.

inversion after adjuncts 15 When clauses begin with an adjunct, the normal order of subject and verb group can sometimes be inverted. For example, after adjuncts of place the verb group usually comes before the subject. For more information about adjuncts of place, see the section beginning at paragraph 53.

Next to it stood a pile of paper cups.

Beyond them lay the fields.

This also happens when broad negative adverbs and some other negative words are placed at the beginning of the clause. For more information about these, see paragraphs 43 to 9

Never in history had technology made such spectacular advances.

Seldom can there have been such a happy meeting.

Both these cases of inversion are particularly common in written stories. Inversion can occur after other adjuncts, but only in poetry or old-fashioned English. The following example is from a Christmas carol written in 1853:

Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel.

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