English Grammar

Adjuncts in English grammar with Classification and characteristics


In English grammar, an adjunct (pronounced A-junkt) is a word, phrase, or clause—usually, an adverbial—that is integrated within the structure of a sentence or clause (unlike a disjunct) and yet can be omitted without making the sentence ungrammatical. Adjective: adjunctive or adjectival. Also known as an adjectival, adverbial adjunct, adjunct adverbial, and optional adverbial. In The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics (2007), Peter Matthews defines adjunct as “[a]ny element in the structure of a clause which is not part of its nucleus or core. E.g., in I will bring it on my bike tomorrow, the nucleus of the clause is I will bring it; the adjuncts are on my bike and tomorrow.” Here we will discuss Adjuncts in English.

An adjunct is a word or group of words that gives extra information to a sentence; but, when removed makes no harm to its grammar.


I will call you at least by tomorrow.
I have almost completely forgotten to take my passport.
We played soccer in our school garden on Wednesday.

“in our school garden” is the first adjunct. Adjunct in English grammar with Classification
“on Wednesday” is the second adjunct.


Take the sentence John helped Bill in Central Park on Sunday as an example:

  1. John is the subject argument.
  2. helped is the predicate.
  3. Bill is the object argument.
  4. in Central Park is the first adjunct.
  5. on Sunday is the second adjunct.

An adverbial adjunct is a sentence element that often establishes the circumstances in which the action or state expressed by the verb takes place. The following sentence uses adjuncts of time and place:

Yesterday, Lorna saw the dog in the garden.

Notice that this example is ambiguous between whether the adjunct in the garden modifies the verb saw (in which case it is Lorna who saw the dog while she was in the garden) or the noun phrase the dog (in which case it is the dog who is in the garden). The definition can be extended to include adjuncts that modify nouns or other parts of speech

Classification of Adjuncts

1-As a Single Word

I saw Ted yesterday.

We will have to use the stairs as the lift will be out of order tomorrow.

2-As a Phrase

I usually review vocabulary in the evenings.

In the afternoons, we have a tea break.

I brush my teeth every morning.

3-As a Clause

We finished our assignments before we went out.

When the president arrived, the meeting had already started.

Characteristics of Adjuncts (Optional Adverbials)

  • “[A]dverbials occur widely in clauses as optional elements.
    Optional adverbials add additional information to the clause, covering a wide variety of meanings, such as place, time, manner, extent, and attitude.”
    (D. Biber, et al., Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Longman, 2002)
  • Optional adverbials can be added to clauses with any type of verb.
  • They are usually adverb phrases, prepositional phrases, or noun phrases.
  • They can be placed in different positions within the clause—in final, initial, or medial positions.
  • More than one of them can occur in a single clause.
  • They are rather loosely attached to the rest of the clause. Whereas the verb phrase is central, the adverbial is relatively peripheral (except in those clause patterns that require adverbials).

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