Adverb phrases

Adverb phrases consist of adverbs together with elements which complement or modify them in different ways. Although adverb phrases are potentially complex, in practice most of them have a fairly simple structure. Thus, a typical adverb phrase consists of a head in the form of an adverb sometimes accompanied by modifiers, as in the following example:

(1) Aluminium burns comparatively slowly.

Here, the adverb head slowly is modified by the adverb (phrase) comparatively.

Functions of adverb phrases

Adverb phrases can have a fairly wide range of grammatical functions. Two of their main uses are as modifiers of adjectives and adverbs, as in the following examples:

(2) The current design of the platform is vastly superior to the old one. (vastly modifies the adjective superior)

(3) The situation has improved very slowly. (very modifies the adverb slowly)

A third major function that adverb phrases have is that of adverbial in clause structure, as in the following example:

(4) Consequently, the design had to be improved.