• Disjuncts are one of the four types of adverbial; the others are adjuncts, conjuncts, and subjuncts.

• Semantically, disjuncts can be defined as adverbials whose role is to make a comment of some kind on the whole of the sentence or clause of which they are an element.

- For example: • Honestly, that was the last time I saw Harry.   • Personally, I find Jill amusing.   • Jill should probably have told Harry the truth immediately.

Harry unfortunately believed what Jack told him about Jill.

• Notice that although all of the disjunct adverbials in the above examples make a comment that covers the whole sentence, they do so in different ways. In the first case, it is the speaker’s “manner” or way of speaking that is being referred to. (He or she is speaking in an honest way.) In the second case it is the particular “respect” in which the speaker is speaking that is being referred to. (The adverbial indicates that the comment is an expression of his or her own opinion — as opposed to what people in general think, what it would be normal or reasonable to think etc.) In the third case, the disjunct indicates the degree of confidence the speaker has in the statement’s truth. (Another less confident speaker might substitute “possibly” for “probably.” ) In the fourth example, the disjunct indicates the speaker’s value judgment on the content of the sentence. (He or she is saying that it was wrong for Jill not to have done told Harry the truth.)

• The examples and the comments above indicate a fourfold distinction that can be made between the various types of disjunct. The main distinction is between two groups: disjuncts of style , and disjuncts of content. The first two examples represent the two subtypes of disjuncts of style: disjuncts of manner and disjuncts of respect. The second two examples represent the two subtypes of disjuncts of content: disjuncts of degree of truth and disjuncts of value judgement.

• The disjunct adverbials in the above examples are all single-word adverb phrases. However, disjuncts, like other types of adverbials can be realized by a variety of structures.

- For example in the sentence: “ To everyone’s great surprise Jill refused to accept Harry’s gift,”  the disjunct is a prepositional phrase. And in the sentence, “Later she explained that she was embarassed and confused because she suspected his motives, which is certainly not surprising in view of what happened later,” the disjunct is a finite clause.

• Disjuncts can be contrasted with adjuncts in that they do not play a full and equal role in clause structure (i.e. they are not on the same level as the other clause elements, subject, verb, object and complement). In this respect, they are similar to subjuncts, but whereas subjuncts play a lesser role in clause structure than do adjuncts, disjuncts play a greater role. Conjuncts, like disjuncts, have larger scope than do subjuncts, but, semantically, they are even farther from adjuncts than are subjuncts and disjuncts. They do not relate semantically to the sentence which contains them but to the relationship between that sentence and another.