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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Different types of adverbials: adjuncts, conjuncts and disjuncts

We use adverbial words, phrases and clauses in different ways.  These uses fall into three categories of adverbials.

Adjuncts are an integral part of the sentence, which provide the reader with information which is additional to that contained in the subject, verb, object or complement.  They convey information about:
  • where (place and direction): in the park, over the hill, next to sofa, at a 90° angle, into the forest, towards the sea
  • when (time, duration, frequency): at midnight, on Tuesday, for 3 minutes, during the Jurassic period, while they are spawning, until you reach the station, often, never, regularly, daily, rarely, continually, occasionally
  • how (manner, means and instrument): in silence, angrily, with a smile, as carefully as you can, with great skill, cautiously, by train, by means of a trick, with the lawnmower, with a pencil
  • why (reason, purpose): because of the rain, since he left, due to her carelessness, for ease

The above types of adjuncts are those we most commonly use in primary education; however, the list is not exhaustive and there are others types.  For example, adjuncts can also:
  • intensify (definitely, certainly, indeed, really, surely, of course, completely, entirely, fully)
  • focus (just, only, purely, simply)
  • modify adjectives and other adverbs, to provide degrees of intensity (click here for more information)
  • contrast (however careful, though unsure)

Conjuncts are those adverbial words, phrases and clauses which have a cohesive function, connecting different sections of a text.  We generally use them at or near the beginning of a sentence, so that they provide a link to the previous sentence or paragraph.  They help the text to flow by giving continuity to earlier information for the reader. 

As with adjuncts, there are different ways of using conjuncts:
  • addition – also, furthermore, moreover, in addition, what is more
  • opposition – however, nevertheless, on the other hand
  • reinforcing – besides, anyway, after all
  • explaining – for example, in other words, that is to say
  • listing – first(ly), first of all, next, finally
  • indicating result – therefore, consequently, as a result
  • indicating time – just then, meanwhile, later, in the meantime

Disjuncts are adverbial words, phrases and clauses which enable the speaker or writer to express beliefs or opinions about what they are communicating.  They signal the attitude of the speaker/writer.  For example, obviously, unfortunately, personally, of course, in my opinion, which is certain, although this is clearly incorrect.


  1. swvickery@gmail.com31 August 2017 at 07:42

    Excellent explanation. Thank you

  2. Short and Sweet!

  3. This is very helpful, May you be rewarded for this.

  4. Thanks. Can you explain to me how to distinguish between noun complement and post modifier in noun phrase?

  5. A noun complement is a noun or noun phrase which fills the complement slot in a sentence. For example:

    The German was an alpine skier. The noun phrase ‘an alpine skier’ fills the complement position in this sentence, providing additional information about the subject of the sentence ‘The German’.

    A post-modifier adds information to a noun phrase after the main noun. See my post dated 11th February 2018: Pre- and post-modification.

    I hope that helps!