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Adverbials of Time

We can improve our writing by using 'adverbials of time'. These modify the verb in the sentence to give more detail.


Past tense


Let's take the sentence: I went to the shop.


We know it happened in the past (went) but don't know when in the past.


Let's add some adverbials of time.


I went to the shop yesterday.

I went to the shop two days ago.

I went to the shop last week.

I went to the shop three months ago.

I went to the shop last year.


We can also put them at the front. These are called fronted adverbials.


Yesterday I went to the shop.

Two days ago I went to the shop.

Last week I went to the shop.

Three months ago I went to the shop.

Last month I went to the shop.


Future tense


Let's look at the sentence: I'm going to stay in New York. Let's add adverbials of time to the front.


Tomorrow I'm going to stay in New York.

In two days I'm going to stay in New York.

Next week I'm going to stay in New York.

In two weeks time I'm going to stay in New York.

Next month I'm going to stay in New York.

In three months I'm going to stay in New York.

Next year I'm going to stay in New York.


We can use put the adverbials at the back.


I'm going to stay in New York tomorrow.

I'm going to stay in New York in two days.

I'm going to stay in New York next week.

I'm going to stay in New York in two weeks time.

I'm going to stay in New York next month.

I'm going to stay in New York in three months.

I'm going to stay in New York next year.


Front or Back?


If the adverbial is at the front then that is the most important thing.


Two days ago I went to the shop.


Most important = two days ago

You are talking about what you did two days ago, not about the shop.


If the adverbial is at the back then the verb phrase is the most important.


I went to the shop two days ago.


Most important = went to the shop

You are talking about the verb / action and that is the most important.


Other types of adverbials of time


All of the adverbials of time we've looked at have been simple: yesterday, tomorrow, next week, last month etc.


We can use other phrases to represent time.


Time of day


At 12 o'clock I'm going to the park.

I'll have lunch after 1pm.

I woke up at 6am.

I want to go to bed before 10pm.


Day of the week


On Wednesday she's going to see her friends.

On Wednesday she went to see her friends.

My dog's going to the vet this weekend.

On Sunday we had a roast dinner, which was lovely.


Before / After


I want to have a drink before dinner.

I want to have a drink after dinner.

Before I go to bed, we should watch that programme.

After the film you should read the book.


When


When I was 16, I used to live in Cambridge.

When I travel abroad, I always try to learn the language.

My friend lived in Australia when he was 4.

The film was released when I was only young.


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