Adverbs of duration

understanding adverbs of duration

Adverbs of Duration tell us how long somebody does something or for how long something lasts. In other words, Duration Adverbs (as it's sometimes called) answer the question How long does the action expressed by the verb go on?

Examples include:
  • Liam hasn’t seen Kim for ages. → for ages—adverb of duration—modifies the verb (hasn’t) seen and answers the question “how long”
  • Kyle and Jane rode their horses all day. → all day—adverb of duration—modifies the verb rode and answers the question “how long”
  • Before her bungee jump, Gretchen thought about it for a minute. → for a minute—adverb of duration—modifies the verb thought and nswers the question “how long”

Examples of adverbs that commonly answers the question how long are shown below.

Common Adverbs of Duration
a long timebrieflyforeverall day long
for a while = awhileall nightfor agestemporarily
brieflymomentarilypermanentlyfor a minute

Adverbs that are made up of several words, like all night, can be called adverbial phrases or adverbials.

An adverbial phrase that starts with a preposition, like for a while, can also be called a prepositional phraseOpens in new window.