Time Adverbial Phrases – Simple Tricks to Improve Your Speaking and Writing Skills

An adverbial is a part of a sentence that gives us more detail, however, they do not tend to make sense on their own. Time adverbial phrases can tell us when an action happens and how often it occurs. They are essentially extended adverbs. Using time adverbials phrases in writing is simple and is a trick you can use to improve word order. In this article, we will look at using adverbial phrases to improve your speaking and writing skills.

LET’S START WITH SOME EXAMPLES

Example 1

  • The superhero ran quickly.’

In this sentence, the adverb ‘quickly’ gives us an indication of how fast the superhero is running. We could also extend this:

  • The superhero ran as quick as a flash.

Including the phrase ‘as quick as a flash’ still tells us how quickly the superhero is running but it helps us better imagine the speed. We know that ‘as quick as a flash’ is a phrase because it does not make sense on its own but within the sentence, it is grammatically correct.

Example 2

  • The man completed his work slowly.’
Simple Tricks to Improve Your Speaking and Writing Skills - Simply Better English
Simple Tricks to Improve Your Speaking and Writing Skills – Simply Better English

Here is another sentence which tells us the speed that a person carries out an activity. We could, however, replace the adverb ‘slowly’ with a phrase to indicate exactly how slow he was working.

  • The man completed his work after ten days.’

If we really want to show off our writing skills, we could include an adverb at the beginning of the sentence too.

  • Finally, the man completed his work after ten days.’

Example 3

  • We ate dinner after a while.’

The phrase ‘after a while’ is placed at the end of the sentence. It tells the reader or listener that it took an amount of time for dinner to start.

Activity 1

These sentences are written in the wrong order. Place the time adverbial phrases at the end of the sentences so that they are grammatically correct.

  • ‘We went on Friday to the river.’
  • ‘Max has football every Monday training.’
  • ‘Lisa visits every weekend her family.’
  • ‘The shop is on Wednesday afternoon closed.

In the same way that we can use adverbs at the beginning and the end of a sentence, we can also place time adverbial phrases in both places too.

Example 4

  • ‘On Thursday, the family visited the stadium.’
  • ‘The week, I will clean my flat.’

As you can see from the examples, the time adverbials make sentences here too.

SIMPLE TRICKS TO IMPROVE YOUR SPEAKING AND WRITING

Here is a list of time adverbials that are used often in the English language. Including these phrases in your vocabulary is a simple trick to improve your speaking and writing skills.

  • on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday/ Sunday
  • in the morning
  • in a few minutes
  • several hours later
  • at the weekend
  • as quickly as possible
  • as soon as I could
  • at noon/midnight
  • during the night/day

TIME ADVERBIALS PHRASES AND COMMAS

When we place adverbials at the beginning of a sentence, we normally place a comma to separate the important information (also known as the main clause) from the adverbial.

Example 5

‘We travelled to Spain.’

Simple Tricks to Improve Your Speaking and Writing Skills - Simply Better English
Simple Tricks to Improve Your Speaking and Writing Skills – Simply Better English

This sentence makes sense on its own, but we could also add a phrase to let the reader or listener know when the journey happened.

  • ‘On Tuesday, we travelled to Spain.’

On Tuesday’ is additional information so we place a comma between the two parts of the sentence.

Activity 2

Here are some sentences with time adverbial phrases. Try and work out where the commas should go.

‘After a while we ate dinner.’

‘During the night I had a nightmare.’

‘At dawn the sky was beautiful.’

Always remember that time adverbial phrases tend to go at the beginning or end of a sentence; this information will help you use the correct word order when speaking and writing English.

PUTTING THE TWO TOGETHER

If you have read the previous article about adjectives, you will know where to place them. With this knowledge, we can use both techniques to help our English skills and provide more description to the reader/listener.

Example 6

  • ‘I go to karate lessons.’
Simple Tricks to Improve Your Speaking and Writing Skills - Simply Better English
Simple Tricks to Improve Your Speaking and Writing Skills – Simply Better English

We could include more information for the reader.

  • ‘Every Saturday, I go to challenging karate lessons.’

Example 7

  • ‘After ten long hours, the woman finished her humongous meal.’

In this instance, we have included a phrase which tells us how long it took the woman to finish her meal. We now also have an idea about the size of her meal.

Activity 3

Try and place the time adverbials phrases and adjectives in the correct places. Remember to include commas.

  • ‘Sammy woke up his turtles.’ (ten days later, cute)
  • ‘Blake decided to clean up his room.’ (during the summer, dirty)
  • ‘Jonathan went rock climbing.’ (Jammy, on Tuesday
  • ‘I attend a music show.’ (Every two days, cool, snazzy, dazzling)

Answers

Activity 1

  • ‘We went to the river on Friday.’
  • ‘Max has football training every Monday.’
  • ‘Lisa visits her family every weekend.’
  • ‘The shop is closed on Wednesday afternoon.’

Activity 2

  • ‘After a while, we ate dinner.’
  • ‘During the night, I had a nightmare.’
  • ‘At dawn, the sky was beautiful.’

Activity 3

Here are a few possible answers. The main thing to always keep in mind is to place the adjective before the noun and ensure the time adverbial phrase goes at the beginning or at the end of the sentence.

  • ‘Ten days later, Sammy woke up his cute turtles.’
  • ‘During the summer, Blake decided to clean up his dirty room.’
  • ‘Jammy Jonathan went rock climbing on Tuesday.’
  • ‘Every two days, I attend a cool, snazzy and dazzling music show.’

How did you score on the activities? Feel free to comment below. Then, if you would like to further evolve your English skills, check out these online English courses.

5 Responses

  • This is one of the greatest English lessons available online. I come here everyday to improve my communications skills. Thanks a lot!

  • This is the best online English lesson I have ever come across. Everyday, I come here to learn basic communication tips. Thanks a lot!

    • Well done John. “After a while, we ate dinner.” is correct. Make sure you leave a space when you spell ‘a while’. “awhile” sounds right, but you do need the “a while” spacing. 🙂

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