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Thread: the syntax

  1. #1
    WUKEN is offline Member
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    the syntax

    Hi! Teachers:
    Could you tell which is right? I am not very clear about the order of adverb.( I have read the rules from the grammar book.But I still confused about the order.)
    1. He doesn't usually get up early.
    2 He usually doesn't get up early.
    3.Usually, he doesn't get up early.
    4. He spent almost three weeks.
    5. He almost spent three weeks.

    Could you tell me the syntax ?
    Thanks a lot!

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    Re: the syntax

    Quote Originally Posted by WUKEN View Post
    Hi! Teachers:
    Could you tell which is right? I am not very clear about the order of adverb.( I have read the rules from the grammar book.But I still confused about the order.)
    1. He doesn't usually get up early.
    2 He usually doesn't get up early.
    3.Usually, he doesn't get up early.
    ...
    They are all OK, but used in different situations:
    • What's wrong with John? He doesn't usually get up [this] early.
    • [2 is the most common case:] He usually doesn't get up early.
    • This is John's typical day: usually, he doesn't get up early. Then he...

    Quote Originally Posted by WUKEN View Post
    ...
    4. He spent almost three weeks.
    5. He almost spent three weeks.

    Could you tell me the syntax ?
    Thanks a lot!
    These two are both OK as well. To my ear, 4 sounds more emphatic about the length of time spent: "It took him ages. Most people finish in three or four days, a week at the most. But [U]he[/U ]spent almost three weeks'. In Br English you could also say 'He spent the better part of three weeks.' And - again, to my ear - 5 suggests - the position of "almost" puts more emphasis on the verb, so that structure would be more suitable in a case like 'There was so much to eat that I almost burst' (I did that particular thing rather than 'have a bit of a rest'/'put some of the food in a doggy bag'/'tell the hostess I couldn't manage another thing'...

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 02-Dec-2008 at 18:39. Reason: Clarify

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    Re: the syntax

    Could you tell which is right? I am not very clear about the order of adverb.( I have read the rules from the grammar book.But I still confused about the order.)
    1. He doesn't usually get up early.
    2 He usually doesn't get up early.
    3.Usually, he doesn't get up early.
    4. He spent almost three weeks.
    5. He almost spent three weeks.


    It is not the "order" of an adverb in a sentence, but the position.
    Remember, adverbs modify or qualify an adjective, a verb, or other adverb, or a word-group. This means that the position of the adverb depends on WHAT in the sentence is being modified, or qualified, or stressed.

    So - in 4.
    He spent almost three weeks in New York.
    The adverb is placed before 'almost three weeks' and modifies the time phrase. 'almost' here means 'not quite, very nearly', and so indicates that he spent 2 weeks and 5 or 6 days there - 'almost three weeks.'

    in 5
    5. He almost spent three weeks in goal.
    Here, the adverb comes before, and modifies the verb 'spent'. So - if he almost/nearly spent 3 weeks in goal, it means he had a close call (=something very, very nearly happened...but luckily, didn't) and he was nearly/almost sent to goal for 3 weeks. (Perhaps someone bailed him out so that he did not have to remain in custody until his trial, and the period of this time in custody would have been 3 weeks.)

    Note: Unlike the adverb in your other sentence, "Usually, he doesn't get up early", we cannot use 'adverbs of degree' on their own, such as 'almost', 'deeply', 'very' and 'excessively' , to start a sentence. That is, we cannot write: "Almost, he spent 3 weeks in goal."

    We CAN use it completely on its own, as in:
    Context: a man is climbing a mountain and Paul is watching his progress through binoculars:
    She: Is he at the top yet?
    Paul: Almost.


    He 1. "Look over there! God, she's beautiful."
    He 2: Very!


    In your next sentences, the position of 'usually' modifies and alters what the speaker wishes to stress. The easiest to understand is:
    3.Usually, he doesn't get up early.
    Take this passage, giving a context:
    "What on earth is going on with Paul? He was up at the crack of dawn and out of the house by 7. Usually, I don't see sight nor sound of him before midday!"

    Here, 'usually' is used to start the second sentence, because it stresses the contrast, the difference between what happened that morning, and his normal routine, what is 'usual' for Paul. As if, 'Wow! Look! It's white!. Usually, it's black'.

    In your sentence:
    2 He usually doesn't get up early.
    ...'usually' is being placed before the whole of 'doesn't get up early'. This again stresses the difference in his 'usual routine' but to a lesser extent than in (3). The passage might be: "I see Paul was up early this morning. It's Sunday. We usually don't see him before midday. What's he up to, I wonder?"

    For 1. He doesn't usually get up early.
    If 'usually' is not actively stressed in the speaker's tone of voice, then it merely conveys the information about when he 'surfaces' (=colloquial for 'getting up of a morning and making an appearance'. I presume it comes from an analogy with a submarine, hidden under water (and the sleeper hidden under the blankets), and the submarine rising to the surface and being visible.) The passage might be:
    Caller: Morning, Mrs. Jenkins. Could I talk to Paul, please?
    Mother: (with a wry smile):" Oh, you're a bit early. Our Paul doesn't usually get up before 9."


    He doesn't usually get up early.
    If 'usually' is stressed, then it expresses surprise at the early hour of his getting out of bed.
    A possible sentence, referring to a neighbour, Mr. Tom Jones:
    "That's odd. Tom next door is mowing his lawn. He doesn't usually do his own gardening; he has a man in. Hmm. I wonder if he's lost his job and having to watch the pennies."
    (In England, neighbours can be a bit nosey.)
    Last edited by David L.; 04-Dec-2008 at 09:19.

  4. #4
    WUKEN is offline Member
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    Re: the syntax

    Thanks for BobK's and David L.'s clarification for me.
    I am clear now. And thanks for David L's correcting me.That's also what I need.Thanks again.You help me much more than a grammar does to me.
    Thanks a lot!

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