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  1. #1
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default What are adverbs?

    I read the following from a book:

    What are adverbs? What do they do?

    The popular definition of adverbs as words that 'modify a verb, an adjective or another verb' is neither accurate nor very helpful. Whereas it is relatively easy to define and describe what a noun or an adjective is, we can only usefully define and describe different categories of adverb. It is sometimes helpful to think of 'adverb' as a 'dustbin' term-all the types of word that don't fit neatly into other categories such as noun, adjective, verb, preposition are lumped together as adverbs.

    I was wondering if the author thinks that it is not accurate or very helpful to define adverb as words that 'modify a verb, an adjective or another verb'. Do you agree? I don't understand what the above paragraph is talking about.Could anybody explain it to me, please?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by Winwin2011; 28-Jan-2014 at 02:50.

  2. #2
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: What are adverbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    I read the following from a book:

    What are adverbs? What do they do?

    The popular definition of adverbs as words that 'modify a verb, an adjective or another verb' is neither accurate nor very helpful. Whereas it is relatively easy to define and describe what a noun or an adjective is, we can only usefully define and describe different categories of adverb. It is sometimes helpful to think of 'adverb' as a 'dustbin' term-all the types of word that don't fit neatly into other categories such as noun, adjective, verb, preposition are lumped together as adverbs.

    I was wondering if the author thinks that it is not accurate or very helpful to define adverb as words that 'modify a verb, an adjective or another verb'. Do you agree? I don't understand what the above paragraph is talking about.Could anybody explain it to me, please?

    Thanks.
    I think it is mostly nonsense.

  3. #3
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: What are adverbs?

    It should be "verb, adjective, or another ADVERB" (not "verb").

    I too think the author has written nonsense.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  4. #4
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are adverbs?

    Unlike Mike and Barb, I agree with the writer, provided, as Barb pointed out, we change 'another verb' to 'another adverb'.

    According to some traditional grammars, the words I have underlined in the following sentences are all adverbs.

    He drives carefully.
    He is very intelligent.
    He drives very well.
    He is also a good athlete.
    I'm a good athlete, too.
    They put the tent up.
    Fortunately, he wasn't hurt.

    She arrived yesterday.

    This seems to me to be ragbag of words that can't be neatly slotted into the traditional noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, preposition. conjunction, interjection categories.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  5. #5
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: What are adverbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Unlike Mike and Barb, I agree with the writer, provided, as Barb pointed out, we change 'another verb' to 'another adverb'.

    According to some traditional grammars, the words I have underlined in the following sentences are all adverbs.

    He drives carefully.
    He is very intelligent.
    He drives very well.
    He is also a good athlete.
    I'm a good athlete, too.
    They put the tent up.
    Fortunately, he wasn't hurt.

    She arrived yesterday.

    This seems to me to be ragbag of words that can't be neatly slotted into the traditional noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, preposition. conjunction, interjection categories.
    Except for your 7th offering (which is a sentence adverb), I don't find the examples to be outside the normal usage spectrum. Sentence adverbs are exceptions.

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are adverbs?

    My point is that the spectrum is very broad and not particularly helpful.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: What are adverbs?

    I don't feel as strongly as the author, but I think they have a point-how many people would know that yes is an adverb, and how much benefit would they derive from knowing it? Adverbs covers a very broad spectrum, though I'd nominate particle as the dustbin category.

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