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Learning Objective:

To identify and use fronted adverbials

Key deļ¬nition:

An adverbial is a word, phrase or clause that acts to modify a verb.
An adverbial is fronted when it is before the verb.


  • Verbs are often called ‘doing words’, but can describe events or states as well as actions. They may have a past, present or future tense.
  • Adverbials change or qualify the verb in a clause, very often by explaining when, where and / or the manner of the verb.

For example, ‘The mouse ran’ includes the verb ‘ran’, which may be modified with adverbials such as ‘quickly’, ‘yesterday’, ‘at midnight’, ‘out of the kitchen’, ‘very urgently’ – and so on.

Single-word adverbials such as ‘yesterday’ are called adverbs. Multiple word adverbials with no verb, such as ‘at midnight’, may be called adverbial phrases. Multiple-word adverbials with a verb, such as ‘after the sun had set’, may be called adverbial clauses. Many adverbials may be fronted, which means they may be placed before the verb: for example, ‘Yesterday, the mouse ran.’