Topic 15 – The expression of manner, means and instrument

Topic 15 – The expression of manner, means and instrument

In this topic I am going to deal with the expression of manner, means and instrument. I will divide my topic into four sections. In my first section I will present some general aspects about adverbs and deal with the expression of manner, mainly through adverbs but also through manner clauses. In my second section I will deal with the expression of means and instrument. Then I will present some less frequent ways of expressing manner, means and instrument. Finally, in my last section I will deal with some ways to distinguish between expressions of manner, means and instrument.

If you want to specify how an action is performed or how an event takes place, you can use an adverbial of manner, means or instrument.

How did Gala write his last book?

He wrote it hurriedly (MANNER) / by hand (MEANS) / with a red ball-point pen (INSTRUMENT)

You can also ask a more specific question about the instrument with which an action is performed: What did Gala write the book with?

The three principal ways of expressing manner are adverbs (usually ending in –ly); in a … manner / way; and with + abstract noun phrase.

Rocio Jurado stirred her coffee thoughtfully before answering. She answered in a womanlike way / manner. As she was nervous, she stubbed out her cigarette with unnecessary fierceness.

Now I am going to look at adverbs of manner. The adverb is the most heterogeneous of all word classes in English grammar. It contains words which perform a wide variety of functions within the sentence. They have two main functions: they can be an adverbial clause element, performing different kinds of roles within the clause (She performed well); or they can premodify a word phrase, most often an adjective or another adverb (You spoke very anxiously).

I would like to point out that an adverb is a single word (just, only, therefore…). However, there are many cases where a multi-word construction performs the same function. For example, adverbs often act as the head of a phrase (an adverb phrase such as very happily indeed). A whole clause may function as an adverb (They left when their car was fixed). Moreover, prepositional phrases are amongst the commonest types of adverbials (They treated me in a bad way). Adverbial is the general term which is used for all these types of constructions.

The adverbial element conveys a wide range of meanings, such as space, time, process, modality… Process adverbials include the notions of manner, means, instrument and agent, and usually answer the question “how?”

There are three classes of adverbials: adjuncts, disjuncts and conjuncts. If adverbials are integrated within the structure of the clause, they are adjuncts; if they are not, they may be either disjuncts or conjuncts. Disjuncts express an evaluation of what is being said with respect to the form or content of the communication. Finally, conjuncts have a connective function, and therefore are not covered in this topic. The main focus of this topic is adjuncts.

After presenting the general characteristics of adverbs and adverbials, I am going to deal with how adverbs of manner are formed. The majority of derivational adverbs are formed by adding the suffix –ly to an adjective, to mean “in a … manner”, as in quiet / quietly. Nevertheless there are certain restrictions on the use of –ly. So, I am going to deal briefly with the rules for forming adverbs from adjectives:

  • Adjectives ending in consonant + le form adverbs by replacing –le by –ly: gentle – gently (exception: wholly).
  • Adjectives ending in consonant + y usually replace y with i before –ly: happy – happily. In other cases the y is maintained in the adverb: wry-wryly.
  • Adjectives ending in –ic and –ical have corresponding adverbs in –ically: historic / historical historically (an exception is publicly).
  • -ed participles form adverbs in –edly with the pronunciation /idli/: learned /l :nid/ — learnedly /l :nidli/.
  • Adjectives in –ary form adverbs in –arily with no shift of stress in BE but with a shift to the antepenultimate syllable in AmE: ‘secondary – second,darily (AE) ‘secondarily (BE).

Nevertheless there are certain restrictions on the use of –ly.

  • Some adjectives have no separate adverbial form: fast, hard.
  • Adjectives already ending in –ly do not take –ly to form the adverbial form. Prepositional phrases or synonyms are used instead: amicably instead of friendly.
  • -ly is also avoided with adjectives that end in /l/, as in hostile, where the substitution of a prepositional phrase is more usual, in with hostility. Exceptions are solely and wholly.
  • -ly is not added to some miscellaneous adjectives such as difficult.
  • -ly can be used with phrases: Carmele spoke quite matter-of-factly.
  • There are other suffixes that can be added to adjectives to form manner advers, such as –ward (backward); or –wise, which can be added to form non-gradable adverbs from noun bases: clockwise. The use of –wise to suggest manner is rather more limited; instead, it is more often used for other relations not dealt with in this topic.

I would like to say that the formation of adverbs of manner is an area of difficulty for foreign language learners, specifically, the Spanish since they have many problems with the formation and rules.

An adverb of manner can usually be paraphrased “in a … manner” or “in a … way”. Where an adverb form exists, it is usually preferred over a corresponding prepositional phrase with manner or way. Hence, She always drives carefully is more common than She drives in a careful way.

A manner phrase sometimes expresses a comparison:

Tamara does not sing like a professional. She goes to the concerts like a ghost.

Manner clauses introduced by AS can be used in a similar way:

My mother cooks beans as Arguiñano does / in the way Arguiñano does / the way Arguiñano does

Comparisons with unreal situations can be expressed by a clause beginning AS IF or AS THOUGH.

She treats me as if I were one of his family

Ana Obregón behaves as though she were twenty years old

After seeing the expression of manner by means of adverbs, let’s move to deal with the expression of means and instrument. Means in expressed by a phrase introduced by BY.

Tom Cruise always travels by plane

Beckham managed to sell the house by advertising it in the newspaper

On the other hand, instrument is expressed by a phrase introduced by WITH:

Victoria hit Ana Obregón with her bag

Ana Obregón tried to defend herself with a lipstick

The verb USE and its object also convey the idea of instrument.

Victoria used a bag to hit Ana

The non-use of an instrument can be expressed by WITHOUT.

He draw the map without using a rule.

After dealing with adjuncts of manner, means and instrument I am going to move on to my third section. Sometimes it is very difficult to distinguish between the 3 types of adjuncts, so in this section I am going to deal with how to differentiate between them. Most adverbs that can express means and instrument can also function as manner adjuncts such as Horatio examined the evidence microscopically. Microscopically can have an instrumental meaning ‘with a microscope’, or a manner meaning ‘in great detail’. Ambiguous sentences often arise and result in the speaker’s intention being misunderstood. However, this can be clarified in different ways, either by indicating gradability (which manner and not instrument allows) or by expressing instrumentality by using a prepositional phrase. Compare the following: Horatio examined the evidence quite microscopically (manner); Horatio examined the evidence with a microscope (instrument).

Adjuncts can sometimes express a blend of manner with another relation such as manner + result: Arguiñano bakes bread wonderfully (in such as way that the results are good) or manner + time duration: The government is working slowly (in a way that will prolong the time).

Another point to be taken into account is the syntactic features of process adjuncts. Adverbs as manner adjuncts cannot normally be the focus of a cleft sentence as in It was happily that there were survivors after the tsunami. However, means and instrument adjuncts can, for instance: It was with a knife that he stabbed his victim (instrument). One distinction between manner as opposed to means and instrument adjuncts is that those of manner can be the focus of clause comparison, for example, Sergio sings more sweetly than Victor does. Moreover, manner adjuncts can be pre-modified by however, how and so as in How beautifully Soraya sings or So generously does Marujita Diaz behave that Sara Montiel forgave her everything. However, adverbs which express means and instrument cannot combine with these features as they are derived from non-gradable adjectives.

To conclude this section about process adjuncts, I am going to deal with the position of process adjuncts. As they usually receive the information focus, they are normally placed in end position. If the process adjunct is obligatory for the verb, the same is true: Marisa treats her sister’s dog badly, * Marisa badly treats her sister’s dog. To focus attention on the verb the passive is often used and consequently process adjuncts are often put in medial position as opposed to the end. In the passive examples, the process adjunct has been left in both positions to demonstrate the change of focus: García Márquez turned down the award unceremoniously (active); The award was unceremoniously turned down (unceremoniously) (passive). Moreover, some comment adverbs (which give the speaker’s opinion of an action) most often go in mid-position: In horror films, characters stupidly leave the door open.

The position of adverbs is usually very difficult for students so this is an aspect which has to be reinforced.

To sum up, in this topic I have dealt with the expression of manner, means and instrument. I have divided my topic into sections. In my first section I presented some general aspects about adverbs and dealt with the expression of manner, mainly through adverbs but also through manner clause. In my second section I dealt with the expression of means and instrument. Then I presented some less frequent ways of expressing manner, means and instrument. Finally, in my last section I have dealt with some ways to distinguish between expression of manner, means and instrument.