Syntactic functions and patterns of combinability

§ 242. Adverbs may perform different functions, modifying different types of words, phrases, sentences. Some adverbs are restricted in their combinability whereas others may modify different words, for instance enough, which may be used in to work enough, not quickly enough, quick enough. The most typical function of the adverb is that of adverbial modifier.

The combinability and functions of the adverbs are as follows:

1. Adverbs may function asadverbial modifiers of manner, place, time, degree to a finite or non-finite form of the verb:

He spokealoud; I quite forgot about it; he spokewell.

Some adverbs of time though synonymous, are used in different syntactical patterns. Thus, already is used in affirmative sentences, and yet - in interrogative and negative sentences:

They have already finished.

They haven’t finished yet.

Have they finished yet?

However, already may occur in interrogative and negative sentences when there is an element of surprise or the question is suggestive, that is the speaker expects an affirmative answer.

Have they finished already? (The speaker is surprised at their having already finished.)

In the same way still, meaning “continuously, up to this moment”, is used in affirmative sentences and any more in negative sentences. If any more is used in a question, it implies that the speaker expects a negative answer.

He still works at the library.

He does not work there any more.

Does he take music lessons any more? - No, he doesn’t.

2. Adverbs may function asadverbial modifiers to an adjective or another adverb. Usually the modifying adverb is an intensifier:

very, rather, awfully, so, terribly, extremely, most, utterly, unusually, delightfully, unbelievably,

amazingly, strikingly, highly, that, etc.

The same applies to composite adverbs, such as

kind of, sort of, a good bit of, a lot of, a hell of, a great deal of, etc.

She isterribly awkward; they arevery happy: Meg is cleverenough;you speak so slowly; they settled in arather quiet street; the boy isunbelievably fat; she wasstrikingly handsome; we did itsort of proudly;quite definitely, too much,right there,a great deal too much.

Some adverbs - still, yet, far, much, any combine with comparative adjectives: much worse, not any better, still greater, etc.

He could not speakany plainer.

You could do itfar more neatly.

She ismuch wittier than her friend.

Comparative adverbs are used inclauses of proportional agreement,that is, parallel clauses in which qualities or actions denoted in them increase or decrease at an equal rate. (See Syntax § 177)



The longer I think about it the lessI understand your reasons.

To express the idea that a quality or action decreases or increases at an even rate the comparative may be repeated, the two identical forms being connected by and:

He ran faster and faster.

3. There are some adverbs which may modify nouns or words of nominal character, functioning asattribute, as in:

the way ahead, the trip abroad, the journey home, his return home, the sentence above (below), my friend

here, the house opposite, the day before, etc.

A few adverbs can premodify nouns without losing their adverbial character:

the then president, in after years, the above sentence, the now generation.

Their combinability with prepositional phrases can be illustrated by the following:

right up to the ceiling.


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