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My son's learning about fronted adverbials at school (at the age of 11). When he goes to write one, he generally comes up with things like this (when asked to do a sentence for a picture with a car in a tree [yes, really]):

Feeling stupid, I regretted speeding.

or

Looking up at my car, I decided to call the RAC.

Rather than simpler things like

Hurriedly, he dialled the RAC.

Are those first two examples of fronted adverbials?

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Strictly speaking (which is a fronted adverbial), "feeling stupid" and "looking up at my car" are participial clauses functioning as adverbials (of time or reason). Being in front position, they can be called "fronted adverbials". Perhaps they are not the typical fronted adverbials teachers resort to in their explanations, where they show the difference between the "normal" position of adverbs after objects:

  • He dialled the RAC hurriedly.

and the front position, where the disruption of the normal word order is marked by a comma, which appears after fronted adverbials, or most of them, to set them off from the main clause:

  • Hurriedly, he dialled the RAC.

As you can see, this duality cannot be observed in the first two sentences, where the adverbials need to be placed at the beginning. They are, therefore, fronted adverbials, but not the ones teachers find useful to show the difference between normal and fronted position.

  • Thank you. I'll leave the question open for a day or so, but I suspect this is the correct answer. – T.J. Crowder Jan 22 at 7:27

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