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Adverbs (and adverbials)
Adverbs are the most mixed of all the parts of speech. By deﬁnition, an adverb is a word (or, phrase) that modiﬁes a verb, an adjective, or another adverb, but this loose deﬁnition lets in all sorts of words with functions and meanings that are quite different from one another. Terminology: adverb versus adverbial. In this sentence, the word quickly is termed an adverb because it functions adverbially, that is, it is an adverb because it modiﬁes a verb. He ran verb quickly. adverb
In this case, because the part of speech for quickly is an adverb, it is hardly necessary to also label it as adverbial; all adverbs are, of course, adverbial. The term adverbial, however, does become useful when it is used to refer to a word or phrase that is not formally an adverb but that is behaving adverbially. In each of the three examples, the sentence begins with an adverbial. Each of the italicized units has an obviously adverbial function; each modiﬁes the verb of the main sentence. Yesterday, adverb In the morning, adverbial prepositional phrase When he ﬁnished reading, adverbial clause he fell asleep. verb fell asleep. verb fell asleep. verb
in the morning. but instead express a parenthetical opinion of the speaker. I. and in the third. the relationship of each of the three to the verb fell is basically the same. 1 Certainly with adverbs. Traditionally it would be analyzed as an adverb in the more simpliﬁed analyses.Chapter 10: Adverb types In the ﬁrst sentence. Notice that despite the differences in their own structures. Practical English Grammar 181 . Adjuncts Adjuncts are an integral part of their own clause. in more sophisticated traditional analyses. quickly. 1. in the second the adverbial is the prepositional phrase in the morning. it would be analyzed as a noun functioning adverbially. adjuncts are what we most typically think of when we hear the term adverb. in a sentence such as Shirley works mornings look very like a noun acting adverbially. in many ways. but it is equally clear that mornings is functioning adverbially in the sentence as a whole. and. Sometimes it is a prepositional phrase functioning adverbially—for example. Here. conjuncts—those adverbs that help join the clause they occur in to another clause. The presence of the plural marker -s on the end of mornings certainly makes this look like a noun. the adverbial is the single word yesterday. sometimes it is a oneword adverb functioning adverbially—for example. Mornings. and disjuncts—those adverbs that neither form an integral part of the clause they occur in nor help join their own clause to another clause elsewhere. mornings. it is more their function than their form that makes them adverbs. These adverbs can either modify the verb or they can modify adjectives and other adverbs. Adverb types Adverbs can be classiﬁed in many ways. and sometimes it is what looks suspiciously like a noun functioning adverbially—for example. the adverbial is the clause When he ﬁnished reading. but one simple way is to classify them according to the elements that they modify. adverbs will be divided into adjuncts—those adverbs that form an integral part of the clause they occur in. Adverbs are adverbs because they serve an adverbial function.
every year or two.. Intensiﬁers (expressing degree) Intensiﬁers occur directly before the adverb or adjective they modify. abruptly. but quite frequently are prepositional phrases used adverbially. frequency. sometimes.. place. be as small as a single word or as large as a clause. and so on. or any of several other nuances of manner. of course. somewhat confused. a somewhat light green color. construction are also sometimes included in this group. although the actual order is subject to so many variables that the sequence is violated as often as it is followed. always. the too. today. recently. and so on Adverbs of place. the agent involved (by a hired killer ). away. a little shaken. construction and the more. Adverbs of time express the time of the event given in the verb: yesterday.to. neatly. and so on. Adverbs of manner describe how the action of the verb occurrred: quickly. straight. randomly. Adjuncts Adverbs showing time.Chapter 10: I. pretty stupid. and so on. in a year or two. powerfully. the adverbs themselves may.. left. very strong. In any case. Adverbs of place tell the place or the direction of the action: here.than. This group of adverbs may also express the instrument used (with a fork ). outside. soon. east. manner. Such adverbs are often made from an adjective by adding an -ly ending. Adverbs of frequency express something about the frequency of the event described in the verb: often. and time are supposed to occur in that order. extremely shortsighted.... 182 Practical English Grammar . at the corner. Notice that intensiﬁers can modify both adjectives and other adverbs. never. with a start. manner. In addition. and so on.. usually expressing some sort of degree: frequently late. rather ugly..
.to.Chapter 10: I. As a general principle. That is. Often the only result of such teaching is that items that might otherwise not be connected with each other become thoroughly confused.. Am I very old? No. I am not very tall.. but I am too heavy to… I am not very short.. Can I go to elementary school? Why not? I'm too old. my students come with these distinctions quite thoroughly intermixed.. it is a mistake to teach things together that one wants to keep separate.. Can I retire? Why not? I'm too young. Am I very heavy? No. Adjuncts Too. but I am too tall to… I am not very heavy. However.to. construction is discussed here in some detail primarily because it has remained a consistent teaching problem over the years. versus very . Can I walk under the table? Why not? I'm too tall. but I am too old to… Am I very short? No.. often the damage has already been done..to… versus very: a digression The too.. but I am too short to… I am not very old. The distinction can be taught with examples very carefully selected to illustrate the crucial difference between the two meanings: Am I very tall? No. Can I stand on a coffee cup without breaking it? Why not? I'm too heavy. Am I very young? No. with too. Can I touch the ceiling? Why not? I'm too short.. Practical English Grammar 183 .
The winner is Sidney. likewise. Colonel Mustard. Focussing adjuncts: only. We did some work as well. even. Jerry went to the theater only because of his wife. 184 Practical English Grammar . If the adjunct is additive. not heavy but too heavy. Even Jim managed to ﬁnish his project on time. Jerry went to the theater only because his wife asked him to. for instance. Why did you hit him? He was just asking the time. This week Bill even did the assigned readings. If the adjunct is restrictive. Only he managed to ﬁnish his project on time. was unhappy with the constant delays. Just Gabi was actually able to ﬁgure out the solution. the adjunct indicates that what is being said is being limited to a particular case. not old but too old. just… Focussing adjuncts indicate either restrictive or additive.Chapter 10: I. Bill only kissed Suzanne. the even in Even Jim managed to ﬁnish his project on time adds Jim to the group that ﬁnished their projects on time. The selection will be made solely on the basis of the test. has taken the Fifth. not short but too short. and so on. not Bertha. in particular. the adjunct indicates that what is being said is being extended to an additional case. Adjuncts The trick in the selection of examples is to show a contrast in which someone is not tall but too tall. the only in Only Jim managed to ﬁnish his project on time restricts the reference to Jim. but Sharon got upset. Peter was only thinking out loud. not young but too young. for instance. Ela.
Chapter 10: I. EXERCISE 10.1: TYPES OF ADJUNCTS. 3. Practical English Grammar 185 . _______________ _______________ ______________ Sometimes the answer comes quite quickly. Identify the type of the adverb(s) italicized in each of the sentences. ______________ _______________ _______________ The old man walked extremely fast. ______________ _______________ ______________ 2. the rustlers reluctantly started moving east. their placement affects meaning. Adjuncts If focussing adjuncts were only found modifying nouns. prepositional phrases and subordinate clauses. 1. _________________ ________________ The huge stone eventually moved but somewhat slowly. EXERCISE 10. as can be seen from the examples. 1. 5. pronouns. Serena usually washes reluctantly and infrequently. One thing that makes this group particularly interesting is that. the issues had slowly become somewhat clearer. _______________ _________________ 2. a type of adverbial. ______________ ______________ _____________ By morning.2: TYPES OF ADJUNCTS. sometimes not. Identify the type of the adverb(s) italicized in each of the sentences. Serena even took a bath this month. but since they occur modifying a whole range of constructions—nouns. they are analayzed as focussing adjuncts. it would make sense to analyze them as adjectival. 4. _______________ _____________ _______________ In the morning.
In English. or through the use of semi-colons (. phrases. These are called coordinating because they join two syntactically independent clauses. through the use of conjunctive adverbs. hard. much like the co-ordinating conjunctions. _______________ ________________ ______________ II. The co-ordinating conjunctions include and. semantically one clause is usually semantically subordinate to the other. and or. join two (or more) syntactically equivalent units. The correlative conjunctions. there are four ways in which sentences (clauses) may be joined together: through the use of the so-called co-ordinating conjunctions. they might join two noun phrases or two embedded clauses. ______________ _______________ _____________ The old man kicked the mugger fast. These conjunctions may join words. Neither Both Either both neither either Bill's stealing the old man one of you Marie the sleeping child you nor and or and nor or his drinking… his aging dog… someone else… Jakub the nervous mother Jake 186 Practical English Grammar . Conjuncts 3. or sentences. _______________ ________________ Quite often I am completely wrong. through the use of correlative conjunctions.). However. even though the two clauses are both independent syntactically. Right here was where the ﬁght was going to be. Conjuncts Sentence compounding: correlative conjunctions. and conjunctive adverbs 4.Chapter 10: II. nor. but. and accurately. for example. 5.
thus. To be honest. as the name implies. Conjunctive adverbs are described in much greater detail in the chapter on transitions. can move freely to different places in the sentence. 1. The conjunctive adverbs include however. is absolutely brilliant. unfortunately. in my opinion. the terminology is transparent: They are called conjunctions because they join one clause to another. is not to say that these words occur only as conjunctive adverbs. Again. adverbial clause he passed out. and after. although. she tripped this time. Neither labelling system is right or wrong. Practical English Grammar 187 . thus. unconnected either with their own clause or with other clauses. before. Note: An alternative label for this last group of words is subordinating conjunctions. when.Chapter 10: III. verb They are called conjunctive because they join one clause to another. however. I never did like the way he does things. and they are called adverbial because the clause functions in an adverbial relationship to the verb in the main sentence. it is more a case of a slightly different way of labelling what is obviously the same relationship. Simon's answer. and. They can and do occur as other parts of speech. Disjuncts express the opinion of the speaker (or writer) about the content of the sentence. This answer. and they are called subordinate because the clause they are part of is subordinate to the main clause in the sentence. adverbial clause verb Before Bill ﬁnished drinking. Disjuncts There is a tendency in both speaking and in writing to make the units joined by correlative conjunctions parallel (see Chapter 16 for a discussion of parallelism). Disjuncts Disjuncts are. III. therefore. too. This. is not as brilliant.1 Although she usually danced well.
Chapter 10: Adverbs and subject-verb inversion Since disjuncts are not part of the meaning of the main sentence. Seldom had he ever said anything nice. Among the guests were a Senator and two Congressmen. so …. Here comes the judge. Yet another group involves putting an adverb of place at the front of a sentence and then reversing the normal order of subject and verb. So thorough was her preparation that no problems arose.. 188 Practical English Grammar . Inside the small cave were four people huddled together. Never have so many taken so long to say so little.. Scarcely had Jill entered the ofﬁce. Such a brilliant woman was she that few dared oppose her. they are often separated from the rest of the sentence by commas. Adverbs and subject-verb inversion When certain adverbs occur at the beginning of a sentence. This last pattern is used to introduce something new onto the scene. the position of the subject and the verb are reversed.. There sat Professor Samuels eating his lunch. Usually these adverbs have a negative meaning. Only twice was he late in fourteen years of service. when trouble started. and such a . Another similar group that involves the reversal of the normal position of the subject and verb includes only.
The huge stone. When the answer comes. I think. Bob often solves the problems quickly. can be moved but only somewhat slowly. ______________ As a consequence. also identify the kind of adjunct. The danger. in my opinion. _______________ _______________ ______________ 2. _______________ _______________ ______________ Terms To check yourself. see if you can brieﬂy describe each of the following terms and illustrate it in a phrase or sentence (underlining the relevant part).3: TYPES OF ADVERBS. _______________ _______________ ______________ 4. a disjunct. Identify the type of adverb(s) italicized in each of the sentences as either a conjunct.Chapter 10: Terms EXERCISE 10. 1. or an adjunct. the rustlers reluctantly started moving east. ______________ _______________ _______________ 5. _______________ _____________ 3. is that the whole building may totally collapse at any time. If it is an adjunct. According to Jim. adverbs: adjuncts conjuncts disjuncts place manner frequency time intensiﬁers Practical English Grammar 189 . it comes quite quickly.
intensiﬁer. (indeﬁnite) time. intensiﬁer. time 2. adjunct (manner) conjunct. manner Answers to Exercise 10. frequency. intensiﬁer 5. manner.2: 1. frequency 2.3: 1. adjunct (frequency). adjunct (place) conjunct. 3. location 4. likewise) conjunctions: co-ordinating — correlative subordinating (or. solely. intensiﬁer. manner 5. intensiﬁer. manner Answers to Exercise 10. manner. adjunct (time) 190 Practical English Grammar . focussing adjunct. adjunct (manner) disjunct. in particular. 4. place (direction) 4. frequency.Chapter 10: Terms focussing adjuncts: restrictive (only. manner 3. as well. manner. disjunct. adjunct (manner) disjunct. time. intensiﬁer. adjunct (intensiﬁer). manner. and so on) additive (even. adjunct (intensiﬁer). 2. just. intensiﬁer 3. manner. adjunct (manner). adjunct (manner). time. 5. frequency. conjunctive adverbs) Answers to Exercise 10.1: 1.
Chapter 10: Terms Practical English Grammar 191 .
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