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  1. #1
    naweewra is offline Member
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    Adverb of Manner: Position

    Hello,

    A number of grammar websites say that adverbs of manner go at the end of a sentence. That's new to me. I thought they can go either BEFORE the verb or at the end. I thought there wasn't much difference. Have I been wrong all this time?

    a) She stroked its head gently.
    b) She gently stroked its head.

    c) He drove away slowly.
    d) He slowly drove away.

    They all sound correct to me, but maybe they have slightly different emphasis. Not sure which one places more weight on the meaning of the adverb, if any.

    Please help.

    Nawee

  2. #2
    SlickVic9000's Avatar
    SlickVic9000 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Adverb of Manner: Position

    (Not a Teacher)

    Your sentences are fine. Adverbs are pretty flexible parts of speech in terms of placement in the sentence.

  3. #3
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Adverb of Manner: Position

    Quote Originally Posted by naweewra View Post

    maybe they have slightly different emphasis.


    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Dear Fellow Member Nawee:


    Wow! You have asked a question that has long confused me -- and still does.

    I am delighted to share the views of two experts. (Remember: these are not my opinions. They're the opinions of experts.)

    *****

    1. One expert * feels that if the adverb is at the end of the sentence, then it is often a complement. That is, it completes the meaning of the sentence.

    a. He says this: " To say that the man spoke is not in certain contexts complete to signify the circumstances of his speaking. To say He spoke slowly is to complete the meaning, to express something more than merely the fact of his speaking."

    b. He says that in a sentence such as "He slowly spoke," the adverb is a modifier, not a complement.

    c. He says that complements "are rather more closely related to their verbs than adverb modifiers are."

    d. He says: "If the hearer or reader feels them [the adverbs] to be essential, they are complements."

    *****

    2. Another expert ** says this:

    "Adverbs can come before or after verbs depending on which word is meant to be emphasized. He swam slowly means

    something slightly different [my emphasis] from He slowly swam."

    But he doesn't explain the difference to his readers. I guess that he figures that his readers can get the difference without

    his help. Well, I am too stupid to do so. Can you help me?


    Your Fellow Member,


    James


    * John Clark Jordan, Making Sense of Grammar (1980), pages 16 - 20.

    ** Ben Yagoda, When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It (2007), page 69.

  4. #4
    naweewra is offline Member
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    Re: Adverb of Manner: Position

    Thank you for the experts' opinions, James. Those two books seem interesting, especially the second one.

    I have just got my hands on another expert's explanation. It might be of interest to people who are still confused (like us).

    "Adverbs of manner most often go in end position, but adverbs ending in -ly can often go in mid-position if the adverb is not the main focus of the message.

    She angrily tor up the letter.

    I slowly began to feel better again.


    Mid-position (after all auxiliary verbs) is especially common with passive verbs.

    The driver has been seriously injured."

    Michael Swan, Practical English Usage (2005), page 24.

    Nawee

  5. #5
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Adverb of Manner: Position

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Dear Fellow Member Nawee:


    I have just received an intriguing answer from someone on the Web whose user name is "Gwavy." I do NOT know, but s/he may be a professional writer.

    Anyway, here is his/her opinion:

    "He swam slowly" conveys the idea completely.

    "He slowly swam" -- by placing the two-syllable adverb first -- gives the reader a much longer tongue when they

    come to "swam," thus emphasizing the leisurely pace by which the man was swimming.

    *****

    If you read those two sentences aloud, you can, indeed, hear how "swam" in the second sentence gets a

    "much longer tongue."

    P.S. The phrase "much longer tongue" is so elegant that "Gwavy" must surely be a professional writer!

    *****

    I shall continue to share with you anything else that I find out, and I hope that you do the same.


    Your fellow member,


    James

  6. #6
    naweewra is offline Member
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    Re: Adverb of Manner: Position

    So... what Gwavy is saying is that in mid-position, the adverb is more emphasized (not so sure what "much longer tongue" means)? If my reading comprehension doesn't fail me, that is the opposite what what Swan says (?). However, I must admit, I feel that I get a more vivid picture from a sentence with the adverb before the verb. For me, when the adverb is at the end, it sounds more like a fact. But, coming from a non-native speaker, maybe these feelings are doubtable...

    Nawee

  7. #7
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Adverb of Manner: Position

    Quote Originally Posted by naweewra View Post
    (not so sure what "much longer tongue" means)
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello,

    I know next to NOTHING about pronunciation, but I guess that he means you are "forced" to pronounce the word "swam" for a longer period of time when the adverb comes first.

    If you say aloud the two sentences, I think that it becomes clear:

    He swam slowly. ("swam" is said quickly)

    He slowly swam. (You notice how you are almost forced to pronounce "swam" for a longer period than in the first sentence?)


    Sincerely,


    James

  8. #8
    efljack is offline Newbie
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    Re: Adverb of Manner: Position

    This topic really gets more into the idea of "the end-weight (end-focus) principle" where new information is generally placed at the end of a sentence. Often, the following sentence places the new information at the begging of that sentence to create cohesion between the two sentences. Where the adverb typically goes is a more a matter of if new information is being provided by the sentence.

    To find out more just Google:

    "end-weight principle"

    or

    "end-focus principle"

    Cheers,

    Jack (youtube/efljack) (youtube/grewords)

  9. #9
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Adverb of Manner: Position

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello,

    I know next to NOTHING about pronunciation, but I guess that he means you are "forced" to pronounce the word "swam" for a longer period of time when the adverb comes first.

    If you say aloud the two sentences, I think that it becomes clear:

    He swam slowly. ("swam" is said quickly)

    He slowly swam. (You notice how you are almost forced to pronounce "swam" for a longer period than in the first sentence?)


    Sincerely,


    James

    Yes, the pronunciation is different, but I have a hard time believing that there is any difference in meaning between "he swam slowly" and "he slowly swam." Both describe the action of swimming.

  10. #10
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Adverb of Manner: Position

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    I have a hard time believing that there is any difference in meaning between "he swam slowly" and "he slowly swam."

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    1. I am shaking with excitement because I have finally found an answer that satisifies me and, hopefully, will satisfy you, too.

    2. Of course, I made a big mistake in failing to do what the teachers here tell us to do: Put everything in context.

    In other words, "He swam slowly" is too short for a careful analysis.

    3. In any case, a grammar commenter on the Web whose user name is Beeesneees (I want to give her 100% credit) took that short sentence and came up with this:

    a. He slowly swam. = the physical act is slow.
    b. He swam slowly. = The distance covered by the swim is done slowly.

    4. Then I found a scholarly Google book called Events and Grammar by Susan Rothstein.
    She writes:

    "Mary crossed the channel slowly."

    a. "We would not want to say that it is Mary who is slow, but the crossing itself."

    b. "She swam the channel fast, but she crossed the channel slowly."

    *****

    5. So let's take "He slowly swam across the river" and "He swam slowly across the river"

    Maybe (repeat: maybe) the first sentence = He was slow.

    The second sentence = His progress across the river was slow.

    6. Then I thought of this. Does it make sense to you?

    a. The students are annoyed with Mr. X because he slowly talks to the class. = His speech is very slow and hesitant.
    b. The students love Mr. X because he talks slowly to the class. = He takes his time in explaining things.


    James

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