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Adjuncts – When and How to use

Adjuncts (pronounced as A-junkt-s) in the English language, can be referred to as a word or a group of words that generally qualifies or completes the entire sentence. It must be noted that an adjunct is not the main structural element of the sentence, but instead, acts as an assistant of other words that are put together to form a sentence.

Adjuncts are an integral part of a sentence, which provides the reader with information that is additional to that contained in the subject, verb, object, or complement.

The information offered on the central idea and meaning of a sentence does not disturb the grammar or construction if left out. The sentence will still be a complete thought and will not look awkward. Adjuncts are usually used to add information to a verb. When used as an adverb, an adjunct can indicate a place, manner, time, reason, degree, or frequency. 

Understanding the Usage

Consider the following examples for better understanding of the usage of adjuncts-

  • Where (place and direction)

The boys were jogging in the park. 

The deer ran into the forest.

Adjuncts- in the park, into the forest

Other examples- over the hill, next to the sofa, towards the sea, at a 90 degree

  • When (duration, time, and frequency)

She goes to the temple daily. 

We ate lots of ice cream at midnight.

Adjuncts- daily, at midnight

Other examples- on Tuesday, for three minutes, during the period, while, until you reach the station, often, never, regularly

  • How (manner, means, and instrument)

She cried in silence after the teacher scolded her.

He made a beautiful sketch with a pencil.

Adjuncts- in silence, with a pencil

Other examples- angrily, with a smile, as carefully as you can, with great skill, cautiously, by train, by means of a trick

  • Why (reason and purpose)

The attendance of the class was low because of the rain.

Sometimes a mild painkiller is enough to ease the pain.

Adjuncts- because of the rain, to ease

Other examples- because of the storm, since they left, due to his carelessness

The above types of adjuncts are commonly used in primary education; however, the list is not exhaustive and there can be various other types.  

For instance, adjuncts can also specify the following-

  • intensity (for example- definitely, certainly, indeed, really, surely, of course, completely, entirely, fully)
  • focus (for example- just, only, purely, simply)
  • modify adjectives and other adverbs, to provide degrees of intensity 
  • contrast (for example- however careful, though unsure)

Characteristics of Adjuncts

In English grammar, an adjunct can also be known as Optional Adverbials, which refers to an optional or secondary element in construction: an adjunct may be removed without the structural identity of the rest of the construction being affected. 

  • Adjuncts can be added to clauses with any type of verb
  • They are usually adverb phrases, prepositional phrases, or noun phrases
  • Adjuncts can be placed in different positions within the clause- in initial, in medial, or in final position
  • More than one of them can be added to a particular sentence
  • Adjuncts are rather loosely attached to the rest of the clause

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