Characteristic of the adverb:
There are 2 types of syntactic functions that characterize adverbs:
- Clause element adverbial:
– He quite forgot about it
- Premodifier of adjective and adverb
– They are quite happy
– They are quite happily married
Morphologically we can distinguish 3 types of adverb, of which 2 are closed classes (simple and compound) and one is an open class (derivational).
- Simple adverbs: just, only, well. Many simple adverbs denote position and direction: back, down, near, out, under.
- Compound adverbs: Somehow, somewhere, therefore
- Derivational adverbs: The majority of them have the suffix –ly by means of which new adverbs are created from adjectives: odd/oddly, interesting/interestingly. Other less common derivational suffixes are:
Syntactic functions of adverbs:
- Adverb as adverbial:
- Adjuncts and subjuncts are relatively integrated within the structure of the clause.
– He spoke to me about it briefly (adjunct)
– We haven’t yet finished (subjunct)
Adjuncts have grammatical properties resembling the other sentence elements. Like them, they can be the focus of a cleft-sentence.
Subjuncts have a parenthetic and subordinate role in comparison with adjuncts. They lack the grammatical parity with other sentence elements.
- By contrast disjuncts and conjuncts have a more peripheral relation in the sentence. Semantically, disjuncts express an evaluation of what is being said either with respect to the form of the communication or to its meaning. They express the speaker´s authority.
– Frankly, I am tired
Conjuncts express the speaker´s assessment of the rlation between 2 linguistic units.
– She has bought a big house so she must have a lot of money.
- Adverb as modifier:
- Modifier of adjective:
An adverb may premodify an adjective. Most commonly it is an intensifier or emphasizer.
– Extremely dangerous
– Really beautiful
– Very good
Enough and indeed may postmodify an adjective: old enough, tasty indeed.
- Modifier of adverb and preposition:
An adverb may premodify another adverb. They can only be intensifiers
– Very heavily
– So clearly
A few intensifying adverbs, particularly right and well premodify prepositions.
– The nail went right through the wall.
- Modifier of pronoun, predeterminer and numeral:
– Nearly everybody came to our party
– They recovered roughly half their equipment
– Over 200 hundred deaths were reported
- Modifier of noun phrase:
A few intensifiers may premodify noun phrases. The most common are quite and rather.
– They were quite some players
– It was rather a mess
Some time and place adverbs postmodify nouns:
– Her trip abroad
– The meal afterwards
- Adverb as complement of preposition:
– Over here
– For ever
– Near there
There is another classification according to content. Adverbs may be grouped into classes according as they may constitute answers to such questions as How?, How much?, When?, Where?, How long?, How often?
- Adverbs of manner:
They are adverbs that express how an action was done. Most adverbs ending in –ly belong to this group: well, slowly, suddenly. They usually modify verbs and sentences.
- Adverbs of time:
They express when an action is or was done: before, late, once, soon, today, tomorrow, yesterday.
- Adverbs of frequency and repetition:
They express how often and how many times an action is or was done. They are most frequently modified by adverbs of other kinds: always, often, frequently, never, occasionally.
- Adverbs of place and position:
They express where or in what order an action is or was done. They generally modify the whole sentence or any part of it. The most commonly used are: here, there, up, in, away, back, down.
- Adverbs of degree:
They express to what extent or to what degree an action is or was done. They are used with adjectives and other adverbs: completely, absolutely, entirely, greatly, scarcely, extremely, slightly
- Adverbs of quantity:
Some of them are: much, little, a lot, a great deal, quite, enough.
- Adverbs of affirmation, probability and negation:
They function as modifiers of whole sentences: yes, no, perhaps, never, surely, naturally.
Unclassified such as secondly (ordinal), far (distance), long (duration), still (concession), so (consequence).
Correspondence between adjective and adverb:
The open-class adverbs are regularly derived from adjectives by suffixation: brief/briefly, happy/ happily (they change y into i if the previous letter is a consonant). Sometimes they are derived from nouns: cowboy-style.
There is another sense in which adjectives and adverbs are related. A correspondence often exists between constructions containing adjectives and constructions containing the corresponding adverbs: adverb= in a adjective + way/ manner
– She expressed the process brilliantly
– She expressed the process in a brilliant way/ manner.
- Adjective and adverb homomorphs:
Normally there is a regular difference of form between an adjective and a corresponding adverb in that the adverb is distinguished by its –ly suffix
– A rapid car (adjective)
– He drove rapidly (adverb)
However there are some words that have the same form without the –ly suffix in adjective and adverb functions
– Bill has a fast car (adjective)
– Bill drove fast (adverb)
Sometimes there is also an –ly adverb form but with a different meaning
– Norma arrived in the late afternoon (adjective)
– Norma arrived late in the afternoon (adverb)
– Have you ever seen her lately? (recently)
Sometimes there are 2 forms: one may be used as either adjective or adverb and the other one is an adverb with an –ly suffix.
– Take a deep breath (adjective)
– Breath deep/deely (adverb)
Finally there are some words in –ly that can function both as adjective and as adverb.
– I caught an early train (adjective)
– We finished early today (adverb)
They include a set of words denoting time: daily, hourly, monthly, weekly
- Adjectives and adverbs beginning with a-:
Some words beginning with a- are adjectives and can be used predicatively with both be and other copular verbs, but the a-adverbs can be used only with be.
– The patient was hungry (adjective)
– The patient was abroad (adverb)
– The patient seemed hungry (adjective)
– * The patient seemed abroad (adverb)
Another difference is that a- adjectives refer to temporary states and cannot be part of the predication after verbs of motion, a- adverbs on the other hand denote direction after such verbs
– Jean went asleep (adjective)
– Jean went abroad (adverb)
Common a-adjectives include: ablaze, afloat, afraid, alert, alone, ashamed, asleep, aware, awake.
They are formed by a group of 2 or more words that function as an adverb. These groups can be formed by 2 simple adverbs or by prepositions + adverb: up to now, before then, at first, just now.
Some of these phrases consist of a preposition+ an adjective such as : at all, at least, in front.
Finally, many of them contain a noun with some other elements: at the side, as a matter of fact, every day, of course.
Semantic roles of adverbials:
- Position: The dog was asleep on the grass.
- Direction: They walked down the hill.
- Goal: She hurried to the station
- Source: This book cannot be taken from the library
- Distance: We musn´ t go much further.
- Position: She was born in 1980.
- Duration of forward span: I shall be in Chicago until Thursday
- Duration of backward span: We have been at the airport since midday
- Frequency: They very seldom went to see their parents
- Relationship between one time and another: She must still be in her office
- Manner: The minister explained his policy very clearly
- Means: By her insight, she grasped the patient´ s real problem.
- Instrument: I have difficulty eating with chopsticks.
- Agency: Penicillin was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming
- Cause: She died of cancer
- Reason: He bought the book through an interest in metaphysics.
- Purpose: He bought the book to study metaphysics.
- Result: He read the book carefully, so he acquired a good knowledge
- Condition: If he reads the book carefully, he will acquire a good knowledge
- Concession: Though he read the book carefully, he didn´ t achieve much knowledge in metaphysics.
- Emphasis: She certainly helped him with his research
- Approximation: They are probably going to emigrate
- Restriction: I shall be in Chicago only until Thursday.
- Amplification: He badly needed consolation
- Diminution: She helped him a little with his research.
The adverbial element can be realized by a wide range of linguistic structures:
- A noun phrase: They had travelled a very long way.
- A prepositional phrase: She hurried across the field
- A verbless clause: When in doubt, the answer is no.
- A non-finite clause: She realized, lying there, what she must do.
- A finite clause: We sent for you because you were absent yesterday.
There are 3 positions for adverbs in a sentence:
- Front-position: Before the subject of the sentence.
- Mid- position: The place immediately before the verb and if there is an auxiliary between this one and the verb.
- End- position: After an object or complement
- Adverbs in front-position:
If the adverb comes at the beginning it is to give us some information in advance, to set the scene for the action that follows.
The following adverbs can be used only in this position:
a) Interrogative adverbs: How?, When? Where?, Why?
– Why did you say that?
b) Adverbs of affirmation and negation:
– Yes, I know him quite well.
– No, that is not correct.
c) Adverbs which are sentence modifiers are generally front-position adverbs:
– Still, in spite of what you say, I don´ t think it is true.
d) Adverbs used in exclamatory sentences:
– Here he comes!
e) Some adverbs can be used at the beginning of a sentence but are not confined to that position.
– Sometimes he sits and thinks.
– Yesterday I went to a football match
These adverbs normally function as sentence modifiers.
When certain adverbs take front position, inversion of subject and verb takes place. Here are the following cases:
a. An adverb which does not normally have front position may have it for emphasis
– Here is the book
– Out rushed the man
b. With a negative adverb inversion must necessarily take place (hardly, not often, not until, never, scarcely, rarely, seldom)
– Never have so many people studied English before
c. When only is in front position and not qualifying the subject
– Only in North-west Scotland have I seen such scenery as that
d. A sentence beginning with unstressed there. They denote a state or a motion.
– There is a man at the door.
e. In some exclamatory sentences introduced by there and here, when the subject of the sentence is not a personal pronoun.
– Here comes Georges.
But if the subject is a personal pronoun, it comes before the verb.
– Here it comes.
- Adverbs in mid-position:
The mid-position adverb is intimately connected with the verb.
An important group of mid-position are the ones of frequency or indefinite time (always, often, seldom, sometimes, soon).
– I always go to the cinema
With them can be grouped some adverbs of degree (almost, hardly, nearly, quite, just)
– I nearly forgot to tell you
Brief adverbs of place or definite time are sometimes placed in mid-position. The same position is usual for the adverb also.
– I now see I was wrong
– I will here remark that he is to blame
– They also serve him
Now let´s see what we mean by mid-position:
- If the sentence contains only one verb, the adverb is placed immediately before the verb
– The teacher quite understood my objection
- If we have an auxiliary and a main verb, it goes between them
– We have nearly finished
- The adverb follows the verb to be
– He is rarely beaten
- If there are 2 or more auxiliaries, the adverb follows the first
– He would never have done it
- For sentences with an auxiliary plus a negative contraction, the adverb follows the contracted form
– I don´ t always see him.
- Adverbs in end-position:
When the adverb occupies the end-position, the emphasis is more on the adverb. It is the most natural position for adverbs and the great majority are placed there.
Adverbs denoting time or place are most often found in end position, but they are also quite common in front position.
Adverbs denoting manner are very often found in end position, but most of them may also occur in mid position.
The fundamental structure of a sentence is: Subject+ Verb+ Object+ Adverb(ial)
– I met an old friend yesterday.
This is not the case in sentences which contain a phrasal verb. Then the adverbial participle may be placed between the verb and its object or after the object. But if the object is a pronoun, the adverbial particle must come at the end.
– Turn off the light
– Turn the light off
– Turn it off
– *Turn off it
If the object is a clause, the adverb may be placed before it in order to avoid ambiguity
– He told me yesterday what George said.
If there are 2 or more adverbs or adverbial phrases of time, the more detailed expression comes before he more general.
– The next meeting will be on Thurday, March 26th 1960
When a sentence contains more than one adverb or adverbial phrase, there is a clearly marked tendency for adverbs of manner to precede those of place and for adverbs of place to precede those of time
– They played rather well here yesterday
Manner Place Time
Position of adverbial phrases:
Adverbial phrases follow the same rules given for simple adverbs
– Of course, you are right (sentence modifier)
Prepositional complements may occur in end position and front position, but not in mid position
– They wanted to return after the war
– After the war they wanted to return