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Closed Class[edit]

"Naturally as a sentential adverb means something like "of course" and as a verb-modifying adverb means "in a natural manner". This "naturally" controversy demonstrates that the class of sentential adverbs is a closed class (there is resistance to adding new words to the class), whereas the class of adverbs that modify verbs isn't."

Exactly how does this show that sentential adverbs are a closed class?

Doghatbeef (talk) 01:04, 15 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Adverbs which r identical in form to their adjectives are compared the synthetic way. Most others, though forms like wiselier are poetic, are formed analytically with more or most. And all adverbs take or less, least for the diminishing comparatives.

Something to do with comparative and superlative, but I can't follow it. Could be improved by someone who can follow it. Ortolan88

I think synthetic="more + adv", and analytic="adv+er". Stephen C. Carlson
Oops, got it backwards. Stephen C. Carlson

Sounds reasonable. Wanna rewrite the para? Someone else as dumb as me might read it and be confused. And, if you do, get wiselier outta there. What's that about? Ortolan88

"As large as", etc. Patrick 11:13 Feb 9, 2003 (UTC)
I took a shot at it. Furture fixes welcomes. Stephen C. Carlson

Hopefully? Hopefully as a sentence adverb is not shunned simply because some purists decided that it should rather be 'I am hopeful + relative clause'. There is more to it. To quote Eric Partridge: "hopefully, besides meaning 'in a hopeful way', now often means 'it is hoped'. This new use seems no odder than the corresponding use of adverbs such as naturally: ' Hopefully/Naturally she'll come', but it has aroused the rage of many purists. Those who do use it should at least beware of ambiguity, since 'He will leave tomorrow hopefully' might be interpreted in either way [This is, 'It is hoped (or indeed, I am hopeful) that he will leave tomorrow.', or 'He will leave tomorrow in a hopeful way.']." (Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English, Third Edition, 1999, Penguin Group, London)

The ambiguity exists for any sentence adverb. I am aware many purists use this example as an argument for avoiding this usage, but then we should avoid all sentence adverbs. CyborgTosser 00:33, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
The myth of the "hopefully error" is one of the few things people think they know about adverbs. Granted, the following, which was just removed from the article, is a little strong:
== "Hopefully" ==
The hopefully controversy is based on the theory that people should say I am hopeful that... instead of hopefully to start and modify a sentence. Yet, there are dozens of adverbs used in this way. Obviously this rule is illogical. So, *Hopefully, grammarians won't trash hopefully as a sentence adverb anymore.
but I believe something like this is relevant to the article.Ortolan88 21:54, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)
We definitely need something about it in here. Andre (talk) 20:01, 12 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Grammar Mistake?[edit]

Near the beginning of the article it says:

"Alternatively, an adverb may be contained within a sentence element.

   An extremely small child entered the room. (SUBJECT + ADVERBIAL + OBJECT +VERB)"

Shouldn't it be:


I'm putting this here instead of making the change myself because I consider myself weak at grammar and could be missing something. But if I am missing something -- it looks like something explaining in more depth. Because I can't for the life of me see how the sentence ends in a verb.

I think it should be analyzed as (SUBJECT + PREDICATOR (OR VERB) + OBJECT). And then on the phrase level it should be explained that the adverb "extremely" is a premodifier of "small" and together they form an adjectival phrase which is a premodifier of "child". Mixing sentence elements (subject, object) and parts of phrases is in my opinion a very bad option.
Besides, I cannot understand how "well" in the sentence "They treated her well." can be analyzed as subject (as it is stated in the article). The subject in this clause is "they"; "well" is an adverbial adjunct of manner. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:39, 17 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Conditional adverbial[edit]

I was sitting around thinking about useless stuff, as usual, and I began to wonder what kind of adverb 'probably', 'possibly', and 'neccessarily' are. It seems to me that they are conditional adverbs, that is, they describe the conditions under which an action will take place. Another cool one may be 'stochastically', but I can see how this may describe in what manner something is done. 'Hopefully' seems conditional, but there's an extra twist of the speaker's desired outcome or result. Is there an "official" list of kinds of adverbs? Arguments for or against adding conditionals to the Groups of adverbs section?


Firstly, what does the NB mean? Nota bene?

Secondly, is there a list of irregular adverb construction adjectives, as well is for good (instead of goodly?). Thank you. --Abdull 16:51, 2 January 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Some irregular [mostly, words that we don't recognize as adverbs] adverbs include: very, well, quite, before, usually, a lot, already, rather, really, more, now, not, why etc. It answers the questions: how, when, where, to what extent, or how often.


english class: i need an easier way to explain adverbs.

(Smillar 17:31, 10 January 2006 (UTC)) goodbyeReply[reply]

Sentence modification[edit]

I don't understand how an adverb can modify an entire sentence. In the examples listed on the page, it appears (to me) that only the verb is being modified. Isopropyl 21:53, 5 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I gather what is meant by modifying is that adverbs modify the meaning, i.e. express the way how something is done. E.g. if the adverb quickly is added to the sentence He said..., it modifies the meaning of the verb. --Sebesta 22:00, 5 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
However, adjectives can certainly be modified by adverbs as well, e.g. extremely good. --Sebesta 22:02, 5 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I understand what an adverb is. I'm just curious as to (4) on the article page, which has the sentence
Suddenly, the cat came in.
I don't understand why this is a sentence-modifying adverb. Isn't
The cat came in suddenly
equivalent in this case? Both sentences use "suddenly" to describe how the cat came in. Isopropyl 22:07, 5 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, now I see what you were talking about. :) I would say an adverb is used at the beginning of a sentence to emphasize (intensify) the meaning of the adverb; this position makes the adverb much more important in the sentence.
As for the example sentences you have cited—I don't think their meaning are necessarily equivalent.
"The cat came in suddenly." You would probably ask, How did the cat come in?
"Suddenly, the cat came in." I would feel more like, Oh, what happened?
But I do agree that in some cases this difference could be insignificant or arguable.
--Sebesta 22:23, 5 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I recently came across a rather strange construction when I was reading a book that explained the usage of adverbs. The sentence was "... a really astronomical figure..." As far as I know, ttwo constructions would be possible: ".... a real astronomical figure..." or " really an astronomical figure.." My question is: which of the two is the correct one? Is it possible to use the first construction?

Teacher Adriano

I consider the very first one ("a really astronomical figure") correct. To make sure, I consulted the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and it gives this example for the "really" entry:
was a really beautiful morning
"real" is not an adverb in standard usage.
--Sebesta 18:36, 6 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think he means a real astronomical figure, where "real" would be an adjective equivalent to "actual". Adriano, in the sense that astronomical means "large", the original sentence is correct in stating that it's "a really large figure". Isopropyl 20:38, 6 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Really is used there as a comparative. It answers: How astronomical? Very. — robbiemuffin page talk 15:03, 8 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Adverbs of time (talk) 03:16, 8 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Order of Adverbs[edit]

Order of Adverbs is needed.

Adverbs modifying adverbs[edit]

Is it possible to have one "-ly" adverb modifying another? For example, can we say: "The bus travelled fairly slowly."

Yes, in English "fairly slowly" is OK, as is "surprisingly quickly." Other adverbs are more picky, however, so for example, "extremely probably" is very clumsy, as well as "fairly luckily." In other languages, like Italian, adverbs ending in -mente can't be modified by other adverbs, if these also end in -mente. So in Italian, there is a big difference between "estremamente spesso" (`extremely often'), which is fine, because "spesso" doesn't end in -mente, and "estremamente frequenatmente" (`extremely frequently'), which is completely impossible. Nobody really knows how to characterize what's going on in English, but a rough rule would be that manner or frequency adverbs, like "often," "frequently," "quickly," etc. can be so modified, while modal adverbs, like "probably" etc. can't. Another test would be whether one can question the adverb with "how" as in How frequently do you visit your mom? This doesn't work at all with modal or evidential adverbs, e.g. "*how usually do you visit your mom?" or "*How probably will the Republicans win?" or "*How evidently is Bob a genius?" Again, nobody really knows why this is, but if you can get the feeling for which adverbs can be questioned in this way, then it's probably safer to abstain from modifying those that can't with an -ly adverb.
Neither 02:29, 27 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Romance Language adverbs/-ment(e)[edit]

I remember reading that the construction of adverbs in modern Romance languages (that is, adding -ment(e) to the end of the feminine adjective comes from a form or phrase in Greek (perhaps early medieval/late Koine) in which one combines the adjective with the word for "mind (ment/e from the Latin mens). Therefore to do something exactly is do something with and exact mind(exacta+mente). Is there any validity to this? I know this is not how adverbs were formed in Latin, but I do not speak any form of Greek, ancient or otherwise and it's been bugging me for a while. 19:15, 9 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I know that to form adverbs in Spanish you add the "-mente" suffix, but my teacher's bad at explaining the exact properties of it. ~ thesublime514talksign 20:44, April 10, 2007 (UTC)

Question about usage[edit]

Wouldn't it be more correct to say that someone "spelled the word incorrect" rather than "incorrectly", because by saying that person spelled it "incorrectly" is to say that the mechanism which allows he or she to spell is broken (as in, the physical action the person used to spell the word was incorrect)? And no, I couldn't find a simpler way to form that question. ~ thesublime514talksign 20:17, 8 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Derived from Latin[edit]

Whatever the above is all about, I've got an issue with the nonchalant parenthetical claim in the article that English grammar is "derived from Latin". I would call that, at best, misleading and poorly worded. It gives the impression that English would not have grammar if it weren't for Latin. I'm struggling to find anywhere on the Wiki a more substantial claim to this effect (that English grammar is derived from Latin grammar). English is no more derived from Latin than dogs are derived from saber-toothed cats, but in both cases the one is similar to the other because they share a common ancestor. If I don't get some arguments to the contrary pretty soon, I'll remove the clause. Tsunomaru 12:40, 21 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Update: did so. Tsunomaru 11:04, 3 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Adverbs modifying nouns?[edit]

In its current state the article says that adverbs can't modify nouns, but I've seen (outdated?) grammar books that disagree. Think of only in The blade scratched only the boy, which certainly appears to be modifying the boy (the meaning is quite different from The blade only scratched the boy). And it isn't acting like a typical adjective, since it's positioned before the article the. How would modern linguists describe what's happening here? 06:38, 3 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's referring to robust contrasts like quick trip vs. *quickly trip or very wealthy vs. *very wealth. For the major classes of adverbs, such as the ones formed by adding -ly to an adjective, this holds, i.e. they don't combine directly with nouns.
In your example, only the boy, the focus-sensitive adverb only is associating with the entire noun phrase the boy and not with the noun itself. The syntax of focus sensitive adverbs is complex and controversial, however, and some linguists -- though not this one -- think these can combine with any grammatical category, including nouns. Perhaps a more plausible candidate for exhibiting direct noun modification would be the phrase the only boy, where only seems to combine with the noun directly. But, here, we see that there is a clear dependency between the adverb and the determiner the: *every only boy, *each only boy, *some only boy, *no only boy are all bad. Another case: an only child (less frequent: an only kid; an only car) might a case of only being reanalyzed as an adjective, with a somewhat different meaning than the adverb. In sum, it's doubtful whether the focus-sensitive adverb only can directly modify a noun. Another case of an "adverb" that seems to be able to modify (mass) nouns directly is more as in John has more money than Bill. But in this case it could be argued that more is the comparative form of the adjective much (John doesn't have much money). Thus there are some isolated cases of adverbs apparently directly modifying nouns, but they are extremely rare, compared to the very common adverbs modifying adjectives, or verb (phrases). Many of those cases, perhaps all, turn out to be disputable. Neither 11:34, 7 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In "The blade scratched only the boy," the word, "only" is a prepositive adverb that modifies the determiner, "the;" it modifies neither "boy" as a noun nor "the boy" as a noun phrase. If it were grammatically consistent for an adverb to modify a noun, then "The blade scratched only boy (i.e., with "only" being an adverb) would be acceptable, but clearly it's unacceptable. Nonetheless, the Tarzans of the world can say "The blade scratched only Boy, where "Boy" is a proper noun for the character's name and "only" is a prepositive adjective. Now you wonder, how about, "The blade scratched only boys "? In that example, too, "only" is a prepositive adjective, not an adverb. Kent Dominic 00:02, 7 March 2019 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kent Dominic (talkcontribs)
Comment on above: Since when have adverbs today not modify nouns? Did adverbs yesterday give it up after being told practically every adverb cannot ignore quite a few rules of academic grammar? (See if you can spot the adverbs and which nouns they modify in the last two sentences.) In practice adverbs have always modified nouns, and the response by the academics, especially secondary school teachers, has usually been enraged denial ("Don't be so stupid, only adjectives do that!")or elaborate subterfuges, usually going on the lines of, "Well that adverb is really not modifying the noun, you see, it is delimiting the parameters of a phrase." Sir, what sort of phrase would that be?" Teacher flushes, faces away to the board, and mutters, "Oh, uh, a noun phrase, I should think." My favorite adverbial waffling occurs in the Harbrace College Handbook, 12th edition, p. 12, where the definition of an adverb begins with certainty, "…adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs…" and then trails off weakly into admitting, "…or even the rest of the sentence." I suppose the rest of the sentence would be where the nouns are. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:52, 6 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Among the examples of adverbs modifying nouns we have the sentence "There is a shortage internationally of protein for animal feeds." I believe this is not an example of an adverb modifying a noun at all, as it seems clear to me that in this sentence "internationally" is modifying "is". Perhaps it would be better moved to the example group below, for predicative expressions? (talk) 14:48, 4 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Could be analyzed like that, but the source it comes from specifically gives it as an example of an adverb modifying a noun. W. P. Uzer (talk) 16:34, 4 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Dear W. P. Uzer, adverbs absolutely cannot directly modify nouns. However, an adverb can modify a clause together with the clause's noun(s)/noun phrase(s). I've addressed the issue in an edit that I posted earlier today after reading the conflated example that you cited. Kent Dominic 23:33, 6 March 2019 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kent Dominic (talkcontribs)

Adverbs telling why[edit]

"Adverbs typically answer questions such as how?, when?, where?, why? and to what extent?"

I'm struggling to think of an instance where an adverb answers a why? question. Should that be in the list? If so could someone provide an example? Matt 01:49, 15 February 2008 (UTC).


I modified and ultimately removed this passage (my modified version below):

which still shows up in the term Lychgate for the churchyard gate through which the body would be carried during a funeral procession.

I judged that it led too far afield from the topic at hand. Mark Foskey (talk) 17:34, 6 April 2009 (UTC)00:21, 11 May 2009 (UTC)00:21, 11 May 2009 (UTC) (talk) 00:21, 11 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

the opening section[edit]

My complaint is that whatever it is that this person has written, the meaning is not clear at all. The opening sections should always be written in an easily understood form.

Azerbaijani linguistic school[edit]

An editor recently added

"The Azerbaijani linguistic school" did not consider adverb independent part of speech, since that it is adverbializotion version of the other parts of speech. [sic]

Another editor expanded on this a little more. I am not a linguist by any means. But hunting around Google I don't find any English language mention of this school (I do find mention of it in Russian, though). My question, though, is whether there is a basis for mentioning this school's opinion on the subject. Typically the reason to mention a particular opinion (be it an institution or a person) is that the entity has particular importance relevant to the subject and, either their opinion reflects widespread consensus, or they are so well recognized in the field that even their contrarian opinion deserves mention. It does not look to me like that is the case for this school. Does anybody know more about this?

--Mcorazao (talk) 18:29, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


References: linguistic school. -- Kiraye (talk) 19:45, 11 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Those are all nice but they don't answer the questions I asked above. --Mcorazao (talk) 20:00, 11 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I do not have other information Kiraye (talk) 20:07, 11 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Errors in Arabic Adverbs[edit]

The article says:

Modern Standard Arabic forms adverbs by adding the indefinite accusative ending '-an' to the root. For example, kathiir-, "many", becomes kathiiran "much". However, Arabic often avoids adverbs by using a cognate accusative plus an adjective.

This is wrong, you do not create anything by adding the "indefinite accusative ending" to the root for several reasons:

  1. The root is not a word to start with, it is only three letters out of which the words are created. for the above example (kathiir) the root is k-th-r.
  2. There is not one 'accusative ending', actually, it's not always merely an ending - it's an accusative form.
  3. The accusative in Arabic does not only apply to nouns but also to verbs and pronouns, which cannot become adverbs.
  4. You can have definite adverbs, in which case you can not use the indefinite accusative ending (noonation).

It's true that the adverb in Arabic is in the accusative form, but only because it's an adverb, it's not an adverb because it's in the accusative!! (then all objects and many other types of words will all become adverbs!!!). Also, Arabic does not avoid the adverb, where did you get that from? there are actually four types of adverbs in Arabic: cognate adverb (مفعول مطلق), locative adverb (مفعول فيه), causative adverb (مفعول له) and the adverb of accompaniment (مفعول معه). I'm not sure what is meant by 'cognate accusative', but it seems like a simple cognate adverb which does not always need an adjective although may be used with one. Mahaodeh (talk) 21:53, 7 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Adverbs modifying numbers[edit]

The first paragraph says that adverbs can modify adjectives, including numbers. Modify numbers? In what language? I can't think of any examples in European languages, nor can I find anything online that suggests this is indeed the case. Duga3 (talk) 14:50, 16 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How about: There was only one person there. It cost about five thousand pounds. (talk) 22:24, 10 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Needs references and a rewrite[edit]

This page needs work. It needs many more references and may also need to be rewritten in order to sound more credible and professional. Scofield Boy (talk) 23:59, 2 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Definition of a noun[edit]

Maybe if this article does get a rewrite (I agree it needs one) then this observation will be superfluous, but the way a noun is defined - as anything which will fit into "The ___ is red" is obviously very imperfect. A lot of mass nouns, abstract nouns and proper nouns won't go in there at all, mainly because of the "the"; but the semantic weirdness of "red" doesn't help either (*"The neighbourliness is red")... I'd suggest something like "(The) ___ is important", but there may be problems with that that I've not thought of. Knole Jonathan (talk) 13:47, 21 February 2012 (UTC) Also, there are certain non-verbs which will fit into the sentence, admittedly by being a little awkward. The obvious example would be to use an adjective, especially a comparative or superlative, with ellipsis, presuming the noun was in an earlier sentence. "The biggest is red". "The neighbouring is red".JimiQ (talk) 22:44, 13 September 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Information about Appalachian English adverb usage has been lost from the article[edit]

An IP editor vastly gutted a section this article once had, Adverbs in English, which contained important information as to how the -ly ending used in English came about, which also demonstrated the -like adverb ending used in Appalachian, which demonstrates its roots with other forms of Germanic speech.

The last article old ID containing this information can be found here. I'd restore it myself, but grammar people tend to get rather possessive over such pages (and also regularly engage in cultural prejudice, and try their hardest to eliminate minority dialects...) — ᚹᚩᛞᛖᚾᚻᛖᛚᛗ (ᚷᛖᛋᛈᚱᛖᚳ) 00:29, 18 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think that IP's fairly random gutting was reverted; it was actually I who finally removed this material, in this edit. The reason was noted in the edit summary - for an article that is supposed to be about adverbs in general, across languages, it was overdominated by some tiny etymological detail about English. I think I moved the salient facts to the Adverbs section of the English grammar page. The detail of the etymology of -ly can be found in the -ly article. Victor Yus (talk) 08:58, 18 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see. That would make sense. But info about Appalachian's -like ending is still absent from those pages. An example would be "the frame was installed crookedlike", instead of "crookedly". I'd demonstrated how -like and -ly are related and ultimately of the same origin. Wodenhelm (Talk) 05:45, 19 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The bit about Appalachian is currently in a footnote in the -ly article; I didn't think it was a particularly significant bit of information. But I won't object if you want to make it a bit more prominent again (and it would be good to give an example, like the one you just mentioned). Victor Yus (talk) 08:54, 19 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion[edit]

The following Wikimedia Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion:

Participate in the deletion discussion at the nomination page. —Community Tech bot (talk) 00:53, 22 April 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Adverbs Modifying Noun Phrases[edit]

Surely in a construction like ‘There is a shortage internationally…’ in this article, ‘internationally’ modifies not just the clause ‘there is’ as stated but the noun phrase ‘there is a shortage’, which would mean that this article has it wrong saying that adverbs don’t modify noun phrases (unless we consider ‘internationally’ to be an adjective despite ending in -ly, which seems a bit odd).

Perhaps the clearest example of an adverb modifying a noun phrase is ‘whatever’. If I were to say “There is no point whatever telling Bob” then whatever would modify the noun phrase ‘There is no point’ (even the possible refutation that it modifies ‘telling Bob’ fails due to ‘telling Bob’ being a noun phrase.). I don’t even think it can be used in the standard way, to modify a verb (In ‘Do whatever it takes’, ‘whatever’ is short for ‘whatever thing’ and thus classifies as a pronoun). The fact that ‘whatever’ can be used to answer a question beginning with ‘What’ is also evidence it is a pronoun according to this article, though when used in such a way it is in fact being used as a pronoun.

To summarise, we should modify the article to say that adverbs can be used to modify noun phrases and give ‘whatever’ and ‘internationally’ as examples; failing that, we should clarify that we don’t think adverbs can modify noun phrases and explain that ‘internationally’ (in some of its uses) and ‘whatever’ (in all of its uses where it isn’t a pronoun) are adjectives. Overlordnat1 (talk) 09:33, 29 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]