building blocksAdverb Phrases

An adverb may be a single word, such as quickly, here or yesterday. However, adverbs can also be phrases, some made with prepositions, others made with infinitives. This page will explain the basic types of adverb phrases (sometimes called "adverbial phrases") and how to recognize them.

Basic types of adverbs

In the section on adverbs, you learned about three basic types of adverb: manner, place and time adverbs. There are at least two more that are important. Frequency adverbs answer the question "How often?" about an action. Purpose adverbs answer the question "Why?". Here are some examples:

Type Adverb Example
Frequency usually Mika usually gets up early.
Purpose for fun I write computer programs for fun.

While the first example, usually, is a single word, the second example (for fun) is a phrase consisting of a preposition and a noun — in other words, it is a prepositional phrase which functions as an adverb phrase.

Adverb phrases made with prepositions

All kinds of adverb phrases can be made with prepositions. Here are some examples:

Type Adverb phrase Example
Manner with a hammer The carpenter hit the nail with a hammer.
Place next door The woman who lives next door is a doctor.
Time before the holidays We must finish our project before the holidays.
Frequency every month Jodie buys two CDs every month.
Purpose for his mother Jack bought the flowers for his mother.

Adverb phrases made with infinitives

Another kind of adverb phrase can be made with the infinitive form of a verb. Most of these phrases express purpose, as in these examples:

Type Adverb phrase Example
Purpose to buy a car I'm saving my money to buy a car.
Purpose to support the team The students all showed up to support the team.
Purpose to show to her mother Sally brought a painting home from school to show to her mother.


When you are sure that you understand the lesson, you can continue with the exercises.