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 Ling 131: Language & Style

Topic 2 (session A) - Being creative with words and phrases > More on word classes > Adverbs

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Session Overview
(Semi) Automatic poetry
Introducing word classes
More on word classes
Manipulating word classes
Changing word class - affixation
Changing word class - functional conversion
New words for old
Word class problems
Word class checklist
Useful Links
Grammar Website

More on word classes - Adverbs

(a) Meaning

If the prototypical role for adjectives is to modify nouns, the prototypical role for adverbs is to 'modify' or specify the circumstances under which verbs operate. In the following sentence, the adverbs tell us when, where and how the sun shone.


the sun shone











So we could say that adverbs tie Mr Shift down ... press "play" to see what we mean:

(b) Internal Form

Like adjectives, some adverbs compare:








more quickly

most quickly

Rather unhelpfully, the comparative and superlative markers are the same for the adverbs as they are for the adjectives!

(c) Function

Adverbs can function as the head of an adverb phrase ('very quickly', 'unbelievably slowly')

They can also modify adjectives ('very quick', 'unbelievably slow') and other adverbs ('very quickly', 'unbelievably slowly').

d) Adverb mobility

Another help in spotting adverbs is the fact that they are more mobile in sentences and clauses than the other word classes. This is especially true of manner adverbs. Once again, press "play" to see what we mean:
Note that, although the manner adverb 'quickly' can be positioned at the beginning or end of this sentence, in between the subject ('She') and verb ('ate') and also in between the verb and the object ('the tutor), it is still the case that some positions are more natural than others. The most typical place for a manner adverb to come is at the very end of a sentence or clause. And to place a manner adverb in between the verb and the object, although just about possible, feels much less natural than the other three positions.


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