Accio Adverbials!

Previously in Advanced Grammar…

Well, we did study adverbs, and we learned that they can move all around a sentence and still make sense. This time around, we went back to the adverbial prepositional phrase and added the adverbial noun phrase and adverbial infinitive verb to the mix.

As you might expect, several students protested that it wasn’t right that a noun could suddenly act as an adverb! But English grammar is a zany creature, so onward we charged with an examination of passages from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

They had to study the night skies through their telescopes every Wednesday at midnight

Professor Binns had been very old indeed when he had fallen asleep in front of the staff room fire and got up next morning to teach

What would these sentences look like without adverbials?

They had to study the night skies.

Professor Binns had been very old indeed when he had fallen asleep and got up.

We were able to have some good discussion about what adverbials are necessary for meaning, which ones just paint a more descriptive scene, and what phrases can be dropped easily with no sense of loss. We moved around our adverbials to see if we could compose a more appealing sentence (“Every Wednesday at midnight, they had to study the night skies through their telescopes” got several takers).

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