Adverbial nouns are nouns or noun phrases that function grammatically as adverbs to modify verbs and certain adjectives.
Adverbial nouns are sometimes referred to as adverbial objectives. This is because they hold a position normally occupied by a verb’s direct object, yet they act as an adverb to modify the verb with an aspect of time, distance, weight, age, or monetary value.
- “I am leaving tomorrow.”
- “We walked an hour out of town.”
- “I’ll see you next year.”
- “I run five miles every day.”
- “I can barely see a foot in front of me in this fog.”
- “They are displaying a block of cheese that weighs a ton!”
- “I’m trying to lose a few pounds before the wedding.”
- “She is 35 years old.” (In this case, the adverbial noun phrase modifies the adjective old.)
- “This wine is aged 25 years.”
- “This car only costs $2,000.”
- “That speeding ticket set me back 300 bucks.”
Complementing certain adjectives
Certain adjectives, such as worth and due, are able to take nouns or noun phrases as complements when they are in a predicative position. For example:
- “This coat is only worth a dollar.”
- “I think Mary is due an apology.”
Some sources also consider the word like to be an adjective that can take a noun/noun phrase complement, as in:
- “He is very much like your brother.”
Other sources only consider it as a preposition in this capacity, which would make like your brother a prepositional phrase.
Likewise, worth and due are sometimes considered to be more like prepositions than adjectives when they function this way. However, there is not a clear agreement on the terminology that is most appropriate, because it is so unusual for nouns to be the complements of adjectives.