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What are fronted adverbials?

What are fronted adverbials?
Fronted adverbials, words or phrases that describe the action in a sentence, are introduced to KS2 children in Year 4. Find out how to identify them and how your child will be taught to use fronted adverbials in their writing in our parents' guide to primary grammar concepts.

What are fronted adverbials?

An adverbial is a word or phrase that has been used like an adverb to add detail or further information to a verb. (An easy way to remember what an adverb is: it adds to the verb.)

Adverbials are used to explain how, where or when something happened; they are like adverbs made up of more than one word.

For example:

In the sentences above, the verbs are in pink and the adverbials are in blue.

'Fronted' adverbials are 'fronted' because they have been moved to the front of the sentence, before the verb. In other words, fronted adverbials are words or phrases at the beginning of a sentence, used to describe the action that follows.

A comma is normally used after an adverbial (but there are plenty of exceptions to this rule).

For example:

The fronted adverbials in these sentences are in blue.

When are fronted adverbials taught in KS2?

Children are taught what a fronted adverbial is and how to use it correctly in their writing in Year 4.

In Year 5 and 6 children will continue to practise using adverbials in their writing and be encouraged to identify them in their reading, considering the effect it has on the sentence.

Fronted adverbials in primary school

The national curriculum states that grammar should be taught explicitly and children must learn the correct terminology.

Teachers will introduce children to fronted adverbials by showing them examples and modelling how to use them in their writing. They will explain what they are and encourage children to use the terminology. Children will then be given activities to complete in small groups or individually, for example:

  • Playing games (possibly using ICT) to change adverbials
  • Identifying and highlighting the fronted adverbials in texts
  • Cutting up sentences to move the adverbials to the front and discussing the effect on the text

Children will be encouraged to use fronted adverbials in their extended writing, perhaps by experimenting with sentences by moving the adverbials to the front (it works better for some sentences than others!). 

Using a few fronted adverbials will add interest and variation to a child's writing, but too many will make it hard to read, so it's important to get the balance right.

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