Difference Between Prepositional Phrase and Adverbial Phrase l Prepositional Phrase vs Adverbial Phrase


The key difference between prepositional phrase and adverbial phrase is that the prepositional phrase can either act as an adjective or an adverb whereas the adverbial phrase always acts as an adverb.

A prepositional phrase is a phrase that contains a preposition and its object. An adverbial phrase is a phrase that acts as an adverb in a sentence. Prepositional phrases can act as either adjectives or adverbs. Prepositional phrases that can act as adverbs also fall under the category of adverbial phrases.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is a Prepositional Phrase
3. What is an Adverbial Phrase
4. Relationship Between Prepositional Phrase and Adverbial Phrase
5. Side by Side Comparison – Prepositional Phrase vs Adverbial Phrase in Tabular Form
6. Summary

What is a Prepositional Phrase?

A prepositional phrase is a phrase made up of a preposition and its object. This object can be a noun, pronoun, gerund or even a clause. A prepositional phrase always starts with a preposition; its object always occurs after it.  For example,

At school = (preposition + noun)

With her = (preposition + pronoun)

By signing = (preposition + gerund)

About what we feel = (preposition + clause)

Difference Between Prepositional Phrase and Adverbial Phrase l Prepositional Phrase vs Adverbial Phrase

Figure 01: There were two books on the table.

A prepositional phrase functions as an adjective or an adverb in a sentence. However, it can never act as the subject or the verb of a sentence.

We ate lasagna at Garfield’s place.

The children ran around the mulberry bush.

Book on the floor is dirty and torn.

She is tired from yesterday’s long dress rehearsal.

The baby slept under the warm blanket.

He stole some carrots from her vegetable basket.

Nora, along with her friends, sighed with relief when their class teacher announced that the test was postponed.

Before class, he joined his friends for a practice match.

What is an Adverbial Phrase?

An adverbial phrase is a phrase that acts as an adverb in a sentence. Most often, the main element in an adverbial phrase is an adverb. However, the other words in the phrase can modify this adverb. An adverbial phrase can modify verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Given below are some examples of adverbs:

As soon as possible

Very fast

Surprisingly well

Very few

Almost never

There are different types of adverbial phrases such as adverbial phrases of manner, adverbial phrases of time, and adverbial phrases of place. This categorization is based on the function of the adverbial phrase.

Adverbial Phrase of Time

I’ll be there in a minute.

You have to go to school every day.

Adverbial Phrase of Place

I couldn’t find a parking spot near the entrance.

He was right there.

Adverbial Phrase of Manner

He sings in a low voice.

She can dance surprisingly well.

Difference Between Prepositional Phrase and Adverbial Phrase l Prepositional Phrase vs Adverbial Phrase

Figure 02: The little boy sang very loudly.

In the above examples, you’ll notice that some of the underlined adverbial phrases are actually prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases that can act as adverbs also fall into the category of adverbial phrases. But not all prepositional phrases are adverbial phrases.

You will also notice from these examples, that some adverbial phrases do not contain an adverb. For example, the phrase ‘in a low voice’ does not actually has an adverb, but it plays the role of an adverb in the sentence: ‘He sings in a low voice.’ Therefore, it is considered an adverbial phrase.

What is the Relationship Between Prepositional Phrase and Adverbial Phrase?

  • Only prepositional phrases that can act as adverbs also fall under the category of adverbial phrases.
  • Not all prepositional phrases are adverbial phrases.

What is the Difference Between Prepositional Phrase and Adverbial Phrase?

A prepositional phrase is a phrase that contains a preposition and its object whereas an adverbial phrase is a phrase that acts as an adverb in a sentence. A prepositional phrase can either act as an adjective or an adverb; however, an adverbial phrase always acts as an adverb. This is the key difference between prepositional phrase and adverbial phrase. Moreover, prepositional phrases contain a preposition and its object whereas adverbial phrases often contain adverbs and modifiers.

Difference Between Prepositional Phrase and Adverbial Phrase l Prepositional Phrase vs Adverbial Phrase

Summary – Prepositional Phrase vs Adverbial Phrase

A prepositional phrase is a phrase that contains a preposition and its object whereas an adverbial phrase is a phrase that acts as an adverb in a sentence. The difference between prepositional phrase and adverbial phrase is that prepositional phrase can either act as an adjective or an adverb whereas adverbial phrase always acts as an adverb.

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2.”1209816″ by Free-Photos (CC0) via pixabay

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