As we know, some noun phrases can function as adverbials (especially temporal noun phrases). Here is an example taken from Wikipedia:

  • James answered this morning.

Can a single noun function as an adverbial? Nouns like "home" or "tomorrow" can function as adverbials, but they are also labelled as adverbs in many dictionaries. So we must find a "pure" noun.

If a noun with plural ending functions as an adverbial, this example can be regarded as a convincing example. (Except some special "plurals", for example "Sundays", which are labelled as adverbs in dictionaries)

  • The original construct was genitive not plural for the adverb, but it has since often been re-interpreted as a plural. See also once, twice, thrice.
    – tchrist
    Jun 9, 2016 at 14:41
  • 3
    Never use a dictionary for parts of speech. Dictionaries are great at meanings and awful at grammar! Jun 9, 2016 at 15:02
  • 1
    I think you're confusing category and function. Noun is a category (part of speech) and adjunct (adverbial) is a function. Dictionaries are notorious at confusing 'category' and 'function'. "Sunday" is unarguably a noun, so in I always visit her on Sundays "Sundays" is a noun and the PP "on Sundays" is an adjunct (adverbial). There you have it!
    – BillJ
    Jun 9, 2016 at 17:59

2 Answers 2


English doesn't like to use prepositions before words like last, next, this or every. It is evident when you contrast

I go to church on every Sunday.


I go to church every Sunday.

There is no reason to use the preposition "on" in the above example. This Ngram Viewer shows a declining trend of using "on every Sunday"

The reason why Sundays is listed as an adverb (in some dictionaries) is it is very broadly used in place of "on Sundays" and it functions as if it were an adverb.

However, I don't think these nouns are adverbs. They are adjuncts and they are used to complement prepositions. Even if a preposition is omitted, there is no change in their meanings.


Yes, no problem:

They leave Sunday.

Sunday is a temporal adjunct here (read adverbial). It is a noun phrase consisting of a single noun.

  • Yup, +1 from me.
    – BillJ
    Jun 9, 2016 at 18:02

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