Adjuncts supply additional information. By their nature adjuncts tend to be optional elements, but a sentence can also contain more than one adjunct. Two categories of adjunct are distinguished: attributive adjuncts and adverbial adjuncts.
In each of the following three sentences the subject has been placed inside square brackets. Within each subject there is an attributive adjunct (within another set of square brackets) which offers additional information about the ‘the girl’:
- in the first sentence it is a single adjective, roodharige
- in the second sentence it is the prepositional phrase met het rode haar
- and in the third sentence it is a relative clause: dat rood haar had (it starts with the relative pronoun dat)
(The examples refer to Het meisje met het rode haar, a 1956 novel (and a 1981 film) about the Dutch resistance fighter Hannie Schaft.)
[Het [roodharige] meisje] was Hannie Schaft.
The red-headed girl was Hannie Schaft.
[Het meisje [met het rode haar]] was Hannie Schaft.
The girl with the red hair was Hannie Schaft.
[Het meisje [dat rood haar had]] heette Hannie Schaft.
The girl who had red hair, was Hannie Schaft.
For a text to make sense it is important to know the context of the events and situations it describes. This is established by using expressions that signal, amongst other things, the time, manner, place, and reason or purpose of events or situations. The grammatical term for these indications of time, manner, place and reason is adverbial adjunct. Adverbial adjuncts give additional information about when, how, where, and why things take place.
In the example below, words that give information about time are vannacht and vanmorgen. Verder and met vier centimeter per uur give information about how things happened (manner). In Dresden and daar convey information about place. Purpose is explained with the clause om te overleggen over de aanpak van de wateroverlast.
Het waterpeil van de rivier de Elbe heeft vannacht in Dresden de recordhoogte van 8,77 meter overschreden. Vanmorgen steeg het peil daar verder met vier centimeter per uur. De Duitse bondskanselier Gerhard Schröder heeft de regeringsleiders van Oostenrijk, Slowakije en Tsjechië uitgenodigd om te overleggen over de aanpak van de wateroverlast.
Last night, the water level of the river Elbe in Dresden exceeded the record level of 8.77 meters. This morning the level rose further at a rate of 4 centimetres per hour. The German chancellor Gerhard Schröder has invited the leaders of Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to discuss the management of the flooding.
Adverbial adjuncts can consist of:
- single adverbs (vannacht, vanmorgen, daar)
- larger word groups such as prepositional phrases (in Dresden, met vier centimeter per uur)
- subordinate clauses (om te overleggen over de aanpak van de wateroverlast)
A sentence can contain several adverbial adjuncts, and there are some rules about the position and order of adverbial adjuncts in a clause.
There is a range of adverbial adjuncts, classified according to their meaning. The most common categories are:
Adjuncts of time describe when an action is taking place.
Morgen komt mijn zus.
My sister is coming tomorrow.
Mijn zus komt over drie dagen.
My sister is coming in three days.
Mijn zus komt wanneer ze tijd heeft.
My sister is coming when she has the time.
In the first example the adjunct is an adverb of time, in the second it is a prepositional phrase (in this case starting with the preposition over, but other prepositions are also possible), and in the last example the adjunct is a subordinate clause (starting with the subordinating conjunction wanneer).
Adjuncts of manner describe in what way the action is taking place.
Peter fietst snel.
Peter is cycling fast.
Peter fietst met grote snelheid.
Peter is cycling at great speed.
In the first example the adjunct is an adverb, in the second it is a prepositional phrase (here starting with the preposition met, but other prepositions are also possible).
These adjuncts describe where the action is taking place.
Hier woont Peter.
Peter lives here.
Peter woont in dit huis.
Peter lives in this house.
Peter woont waar die rode auto staat.
Peter lives where that red car is parked.
In the first example the adjunct is an adverb, in the second it is a prepositional phrase (here starting with the preposition in, but other prepositions are also possible), and in the last example the adjunct is a subordinate clause (starting with the relative adverb waar).
These adjuncts describe for what purpose the action is taking place.
We gaan op vakantie om uit te rusten.
We go on holiday (in order) to rest.
We gaan voor onze rust op vakantie.
We go on holiday for our peace and quiet.
Daarom gaan we op vakantie.
That is why we go on holiday.
In the first example the adjunct is a subordinate clause (starting with the conjunction om), in the second it is a prepositional phrase (usually, as here, starting with the preposition voor), and in the last example the adjunct is the conjunctional adverb daarom.
The negative adverb niet is an adverbial adjunct of negation:
Peter fietst niet.
Peter does not cycle.
There are two other negative adverbs, nooit (‘never’) and nergens (‘nowhere’). However, they are not adverbs of negation: nooit is a negative adverb of time and nergens is a negative adverb of place.
This type of adjunct expresses a cause or a reason:
Vanavond haal ik een pizza omdat ik geen zin heb om te koken.
Tonight I’ll get a pizza because I do not fancy cooking.
In verband met de mysterieuze ziekte zijn noodmaatregelen ingesteld op de luchthavens.
As a result of the mysterieus illness, emergency measures have been introduced in the airports.
Door de gladheid konden we niet naar ons werk.
Because of the icy conditions we could not go to work.
Dit was het laatste agendapunt. Derhalve sluit ik de vergadering.
This was the last agenda item. I therefore close the meeting.
In the first example the adjunct is a subordinate clause (starting with the conjunction omdat), and in the second and third examples it is a prepositional phrase (starting respectively with the phrase in verband met and the preposition door). In the last example, the adjunct is the adverb derhalve.
This type of adjunct expresses the relation between one situation and another:
In verhouding tot vorig jaar gaat het slecht met onze economie.
In comparison to last year, our economy is doing badly.
Naarmate je ergens langer woont, leer je meer mensen kennen.
The longer you live somewhere, the more people you get to know.
In the first example the adjunct is a prepositional phrase (starting with the phrase in verhouding tot), and in the second example it is a subordinate clause (starting with the subordinating conjunction naarmate).
This type of adjunct expresses a degree. It addresses the question ‘To what extent…?’:
Het regende flink.
It rained substantially.
Ik was tot op het bot nat geworden.
I got soaked to the bone.
In the first example the adjunct is an adverb (hard), and in the second example it is a prepositional phrase (starting with the preposition tot).