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Adjunct in English Grammar

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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Definition of adjunct

Adjunct is an integral part of English grammar. According to the Collins Dictionary, the adjunct definition goes as follows, “an adjunct is a word or group of words which indicates the circumstances of an action, event, or situation. An adjunct is usually a prepositional phrase or an adverb group”.

What does adjunct mean in simple words?

Adverbs indicate those words which do not have objects in the sentence. Prepositions are words used when there are objects in the sentence. Adjunct meaning holds a clear purpose to join or combine any situation, event or action together in the sentence in these two cases. It is similar to conjunctions, but it is a phrase used in a sentence.

In simple words, an adjunct is a word or phrase that adds extra information or details to a sentence but is not necessary to the sentence’s meaning. It is a modifier that can be removed without changing the sentence’s basic grammatical structure or overall purpose.

Adjuncts can take many forms, such as adverbs, prepositional phrases, infinitive phrases, and clauses. They can provide information about time, place, manner, reason, or condition, among other things.

Here are some examples of sentences with adjuncts:

  • She drove to work quickly. (“quickly” is an adverb adjunct modifying the verb “drove”)

  • The dog in the yard barked at the mailman. (“in the yard” is a prepositional phrase adjunct modifying the noun “dog”)

  • To finish the project on time, we worked late into the night. (“To finish the project on time” is an infinitive phrase adjunct modifying the main verb “worked”)

  • Although he was tired, he stayed up to watch the movie. (“Although he was tired” is a clause adjunct modifying the main clause “he stayed up to watch the movie”)

Adjuncts are significant to English grammar because they tell us more about the sentence’s actions or circumstances. The sentence with the adjunct is more defining and has much more clarity with better communication. Adjunct meaning and importance are as simple as to help define things better.

What is an adjunct example?

We went through a hearty session. 

In this sentence, the term “hearty” is an adjunct. The main object of the sentence was to affirm that they went to the session. The word “hearty” adds to the event they went into. Similarly, they left the session in the evening. The term “at evening” is an adjunct, adding weightage to the sentence. 

Role of Adjuncts in english language

As we have now discussed, what is adjunct? We should move forward to looking out for what its role is and how it modifies a sentence. As we all know that it doesn’t modify a sentence but helps improve it into a better and clearer sentence. The sentence is not modified, and the meaning remains exactly the same. 

What does adjunct mean

 when we say that it modifies verbs and prepositions? The use of adverbs, adverb phrases, adverbial clauses and prepositions, and prepositional clauses are added to the verbs, and pronouns are modified to a clearer stance. 

For example, I couldn’t find him anywhere. I look out all morning.

These two sentences with the word ” anywhere” and “all morning” are adjuncts. These words enhanced the verb in the sentence and made the sentence clear. The main message of these 2 sentences is that one couldn’t find him, and one who looked out was already conveyed. Still, the word ” anywhere” and “all morning” added more information to the events in the sentences, giving more details.  

What can adjunct modify?

Adjuncts can modify only the simple elements of the sentence without changing meaning, such as verbs, adjectives and other components. The modifications enhance the verbs, adjectives and other components to give more details like when, why, what and how it happened.

For example: They ate heartily, they will leave tomorrow, he cut his finger badly. In these examples, the word “heartily,” “tomorrow,” and ” badly” indicates how they ate, when they will leave tomorrow and how badly he cut his fingers. The main messages in the sentences were that they ate, they left, and he cut his finger. The sentences would go on without the word “heartily,” “tomorrow,” and ” badly,” but adding these enhances the meaning and changes the word to a meaningful adverb. 

Identifying Adjuncts in Sentences

After looking out for adjunct meaning, we must read the ways how to identify it? One needs to know that there are special characteristics that you have to look out for when identifying an adjunct. Also, one should know that multiple adjuncts can exist in the same sentence. Here are some pointers to look out for in identifying adjuncts in a sentence.

  • One should look for additional clauses apart from the sentence’s structural clause, which adds more meaning. 
  • You can find adjuncts in the final, initial, or medial positions.
  • Adjuncts are mainly prepositional phrases, noun phrases or adverbial phrases.

Here is a step-by-step guide to look out for Adjuncts in your sentence. 

  • Step 1: Check out for the additional clause in your sentence.

  • Step 2: Determine what kind of additional clause is present in your sentence.

  • Step 3: If there is any kind of prepositional, noun or adverbial phrase, you have found your adjunct. 

Common pitfalls to avoid when identifying adjuncts. Follow the next context to know more!

  • You should never mistake adjectives for adjuncts.

Adjectives and adjuncts are very common in a sentence and also very similar. Never identify an adjective as an adjunct. Adjectives with a single word are adjectival phrases; adjuncts are additional clauses with the same function. 

  • You should never mistake superlatives for adjuncts.

Superlatives are kind of adjectives to describe the degree of certainness, such as good, better, and best. These are not adjuncts. One should always distinguish them. 

For example, “we see them standing far away” is an adjunct. “Farthest, as we see” is a superlative. We can use adjectives and adjective phrases as adjuncts, but adjuncts have their own set of characteristics. Hence, we should not confuse them. 

Types of Adjuncts

Here are different types of Adjuncts you can learn about. Keep reading to know more!

Adverbial Adjuncts

Adverbial adjuncts are additional clauses that deal with adverbs. It can be an adverb, adjective, verb, adverbial phrase, or whole clause. Although, it is difficult to remove this extra clause from the sentence. One with careful grammar can remove it easily, making it a normal sentence. These are generally based on time, place, manner, reason and frequency. It changes different elements by modifying verbs, adjectives and other sentence components while enhancing the sentence. Verbs are changed into adverbs, and adjectives can be changed into adjective phrases.

For example, the black cat climbed onto the table. In this sentence, “climbed onto the table” is an adjunct.

Adjectival Adjuncts

Adjectival adjuncts are used to enhance the nouns and the pronoun by adding an additional clause to the sentence. There can be multiple additional clauses added to the sentence for the same reason. Adjectival adjuncts can modify nouns and pronouns. These come directly before the noun or the pronoun, which will cause no grammatical error when removed. 

For example, He has a black beard. In this sentence, the word “black” is the adjective that can be easily removed without any grammatical mistakes before the noun “beard.” 

For certain adjuncts, the modification will pertain to partial clauses and relative phrases. Furry, the kitten is sitting. Black -> sitting partially under the table -> in which. Black, which is an adjective, was modified by the adjunct to form a partial clause in this sentence. A black kitten, sitting under the table, is a modified relative phrase with an added adjunct. 

Nominal Adjuncts

Nominal adjuncts modify the nouns and are related to nouns when additional clauses are added. The noun is easily modified in these sentences where any place or timing used. 

Nominal adjuncts are modified into appositives and prepositional phrases. For example, my elder sister is Rebecca. The word “big” changes the noun as an adjunct and becomes appositive when the word “Rebecca” comes in. Similarly, “He nervously hid under the table” is a prepositional phrase with an adjunct as “nervously” in it. 

Sentence-Final Adjuncts

Sentence-Final adjuncts to provide very specific additional information that you can change the entire sentence if not present. There are many examples of it with adverbs. 

For example, Gary is very tired of climbing rocks. The word “very tired” is an adverb that, if not present in the sentence as an adjunct, will change the sentence’s meaning to just climbing rocks, omitting the purpose of “how” he was climbing rocks. 

Incorrect use of adjuncts in sentences

Here are some pointers of use adjuncts you should be careful about. Keep reading!

Misplaced or Dangling Modifiers

It is a separate clause that modifies the actual clause in the sentence, making it sound awkward or illogical. It confuses the audience or the speakers to use any dangling or misplaced modifiers. 

For example, they bought a hearty puppy for my sister precious they call. This sentence sounds very awkward and confusing. It indicates that the sister’s name is precious and not the hearty puppy because the modifier is very far from the subject. This can be very common when placing adjuncts in the sentence. To avoid this, make sure that you place it correctly without any grammatical errors. To avoid this error, you should always be fluent and keep the sentence simple instead of making it complex. The correct version of this example should be, “They bought a hearty puppy, they call Precious for my sister.” 

Ambiguous or Vague Adverbial Phrases

Ambiguous or vague adverbial phrases occur when the adverbs do not have any specific boundaries as to what it means worldwide or it means a two-way concept. 

For example, I bank beside the goalpost. The word “bank” here can mean different things like “financial institution, river bank and dunking,” which can confuse the readers or listeners as to which kind of bank the sentence is about. At the same time, the word “Tall” in a sentence doesn’t specify how tall, making the readers confused. One should avoid using these words to actively use adjuncts by replacing them with alternative synonyms. 

Overuse of Adverbial Clauses

Overuse of adverbial clauses can also cause readers to be confused about adjuncts, and it is not grammatically correct. 

For example, “various”, “others”, “together” are synonyms and are often used vive-versa. One should not use them simultaneously in the sentence. One can easily avoid it by using either various or different. 

Redundant or Unnecessary Adjuncts

Sometimes an adjunct is not necessary for a sentence as the sentence itself convinces the same thing as an additional clause. For example, He has white “white lilies.” In the sentence, the word white is repeated twice, one as a name and another as an adjectival adjunct. The term “white lilies” is already addressing its color and adding value to it without any adjunct. One can add another adjective or adverb in such situations to make the sentence grammatically correct and more easy to understand. For example, “he had rare white lilies” or “he had scented white lilies.” 

adjunctive definition

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Key Takeaways

  1. Adjuncts are additional clauses.

  2. They can be removed easily.

  3. One should write it without any mistakes.

  4. There are different types of adjuncts to use.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common mistakes to avoid when using adjuncts?

Some of the common mistakes to avoid when using adjuncts are overusing adverbial clauses, dangling modifiers, and unnecessary use of adjuncts.

How can I improve my use of adjuncts in writing?

One tip to improve your use of adjuncts in writing is to go for fluent versions to write. If your writing improves and makes your contexts fluent, the adjunct is grammatically correct. But if it’s confusing, it’s not correct. You can also go for courses by Edulyte to improve your use of adjuncts in writing. 

Can adjuncts be omitted from sentences?

Yes, adjuncts can be omitted from sentences easily. It is so because these are additional clauses and not the main clause of the sentence.

How do I know if I am using adjuncts correctly?

It should sound grammatically correct and abide by all the characteristics and rules. You are not using it right if it sounds awkward, confusing, or even difficult.

How can I check my knowledge of adjuncts?

If you want to check your knowledge of adjuncts, make sure to go by the worksheet provided below. 

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