Analyzing the Grammar of English

By Richard V. Teschner; Eston E. Evans | Go to book overview

Adverbs, It and There Referentials and
Nonreferentials, and Fronting

Adverbs

There are four major categories of adverbs, a part of speech that grade school textbooks once defined in a flawed and incomplete fashion as [words ending in ly that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.] The problem with this definition is that not all words ending in ly are adverbs—for example the adjective ugly—and not all adverbs end in ly—for example, tomorrow (I will see him tomorrow), hard (I will work hard), and soon (The job will be done soon). Nevertheless, [ly = adverb] is still a good place to begin a more sophisticated study of the adverb phenomenon.

The four major categories of adverbs are:

Manner adverbs (which typically modify verbs) Manner adverbs always lend themselves to the following paraphrase/restatement: (VERB) in an XXXX manner/way/sense. Here are several examples:

[1] Casimir walked slowly up the hill. (Paraphrase: walked in a slow manner)

[2] Gertrude happily cried herself to sleep. (Paraphrase: cried in a happy manner)

[3] The sheep grazed in the meadow lazily. (Paraphrase: >grazed in a lazy manner)

[4] We literally ran out of gas. (Paraphrase: >ran out of gas in a literal sense)

Gradational adverbs (which typically modify adjectives or other adverbs) Gradational adverbs (also called intensifiers) answer the question: To what degree of intensity? Gradational brings to mind a measuring scale and its degrees. Consider the following sentences:

[5] Anne-Marie is very happy. (Question: To what degree is Anne-Marie happy: extremely happy,
slightly happy, sort of happy, very happy… ?)

[6] Jean-Pierre was somewhat glad to see us. (Question: To what degree was Jean-Pierre glad to see
us: to a moderate degree (somewhat), to an extreme degree (tremendously)… ?)

Since gradational adverbs typically modify adjectives or other adverbs, another way to prove whether a given adverb is gradational is to ask: Does the clause in which it appears contain another adverb? an adjective? If so, then does the suspected gradational adverb say something about the degree of that adjective or other adverb?

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