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  1. #1
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    adjective or noun?

    Dear teachers,

    I got confused by the phrase 'in earnest'. In the dictionary the phrase is under adjective. If it is an adjective how can it be put after prep. 'in'? Our textbook says in the phrase 'in earnest' 'earnest' is a noun. Could you please tell me what part of speech it is?

    I am looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang

  2. #2
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    The phrase in earnest is like the word sincere in that it is an adjective.

    :)

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    If you do something 'in earnest', might that not be an adverbial?

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    Re: adjective or noun?

    'in earnest' can function as an adjective or as an adverb. Its function depends on what word it is modifying in the sentence. If 'in earnest' modifies a noun, then its function is that of an adjective. If 'in earnest' modifies a verb, then it's functioning as an adverb:

    Adjective
    in earnest - characterized by a firm and humorless belief in the validity of your opinions;

    Example: "Both sides were deeply in earnest, even passionate".
    => 'in earnest' modifies the subject, noun, 'both sides'.

    Adverb
    in earnest - in a serious manner;

    Example: "She started studying in earnest".
    => 'in earnest' modifies the verb 'started studying'.

    Question: How did she start studying?
    Answer: She started studying in earnest.
    => 'in earnest' functions as an adverb here.

    Here's a great dictionary online: www.thefreedictionary.com

    All the best,

  5. #5
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    Re: adjective or noun?

    Thank you very much for your explanation and for providing the website of free dictionary. There is really something that can't be found in other dictionaries. Could you please tell me when the phrase is used as adverb, is there any difference between 'in earnest' and 'earnestly'?

    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    'in earnest' can function as an adjective or as an adverb. Its function depends on what word it is modifying in the sentence. If 'in earnest' modifies a noun, then its function is that of an adjective. If 'in earnest' modifies a verb, then it's functioning as an adverb:

    Adjective
    in earnest - characterized by a firm and humorless belief in the validity of your opinions;

    Example: "Both sides were deeply in earnest, even passionate".
    => 'in earnest' modifies the subject, noun, 'both sides'.

    Adverb
    in earnest - in a serious manner;

    Example: "She started studying in earnest".
    => 'in earnest' modifies the verb 'started studying'.

    Question: How did she start studying?
    Answer: She started studying in earnest.
    => 'in earnest' functions as an adverb here.

    Here's a great dictionary online: www.thefreedictionary.com

    All the best,
    :D

  6. #6
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    Re: adjective or noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang
    Could you please tell me when the phrase [in earnest] is used as an adverb. Is there any difference between 'in earnest' and 'earnestly'?
    'earnestly' is an adverb in form as well as in function, whereas 'in earnest' is an adverb in function and a prepositional phrase in form. As for differences other than form, between earnestly and in earnest, I don't feel there are, e.g.

    speaking earnestly / speaking in earnest,

    with the one exception that 'earnestly' can occur either before or after the verb, i.e.

    speaking earnestly (OK)
    earnestly speaking (OK)

    whereas 'in earnest' cannot occur before the verb, i.e.

    in earnest speaking (Not OK)
    speaking in earnest (OK)

    The distribution of 'in earnest' is not as free as that of 'earnestly'. The reason being that 'in earnest' is not an adverb in form.

    All the best,

  7. #7
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    What Cas said.

    :wink:

  8. #8
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    Re: adjective or noun?

    Dear Casiopea,

    Thank you for your explanation. I understand your explanation very well.

    However, when I was trying to find more examples, I came across another problem. The following is the entry for 'earnest' in THE ADVANCED LEARNER'S DICTIONARY FO CURRENT ENGLISH WITH CHIESE TRANSLATION (1982):
    adj. serious; determined: an ~ worker ( pupil); an ~ Christian, one who conscientiously practise beliefs. n. in earnest, in a determined, not in a joking manner; seriousl(ly):If you work in ~, you will succeed. I'm perfectly in ~ , am not joking. It is raining in real ~, heavily, and likely to continue. ~ly adv. in an ~ manner: We ~ly hope that... ~ness.

    My questions are:

    No. 1: In the phrase 'in earnest' the word 'earnest' is a noun. But the phrase can be adj. as well as adv. Am I right?

    No.2: What's the difference between 'earnest' when it used as a noun and the noun form 'earnestness' ?

    I am looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang



    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Quote Originally Posted by jiang
    Could you please tell me when the phrase [in earnest] is used as an adverb. Is there any difference between 'in earnest' and 'earnestly'?
    'earnestly' is an adverb in form as well as in function, whereas 'in earnest' is an adverb in function and a prepositional phrase in form. As for differences other than form, between earnestly and in earnest, I don't feel there are, e.g.

    speaking earnestly / speaking in earnest,

    with the one exception that 'earnestly' can occur either before or after the verb, i.e.

    speaking earnestly (OK)
    earnestly speaking (OK)

    whereas 'in earnest' cannot occur before the verb, i.e.

    in earnest speaking (Not OK)
    speaking in earnest (OK)

    The distribution of 'in earnest' is not as free as that of 'earnestly'. The reason being that 'in earnest' is not an adverb in form.

    All the best,
    :?

  9. #9
    RonBee's Avatar
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    The phrase in earnest can be either an adverb or an adjective, depending on what it modifies. The noun form is earnestness. (The word earnest is used as a noun, but that definition of the word is not relevant here. See below.)


  10. #10
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    Dear RonBee,

    Thank you for providing me with the websites.

    I am sorry I didn't express myself clearly. What I cited in the last mail is Entry One for earnest. In the dictionary there is Entry Two for earnest: n. 1 (also ~money) part payment made as a pledge that full payment will follow. 2. sth. coming in advance as a sign of what is to com after: As an ! of my good intentions I will work overtime this week. According to this 'earnestness' is the noun form of the adj. earnest while entry two of earnest bears another meaning. I just don't understand this.

    I am looiing forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    The phrase in earnest can be either an adverb or an adjective, depending on what it modifies. The noun form is earnestness. (The word earnest is used as a noun, but that definition of the word is not relevant here. See below.)

    :?

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