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  1. #1
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    position of adverb

    English grammar says that when an adverb modifies a verb, it should be behind the verb. So is the following sentence right? Thanks.
    He only speaks English.

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    Re: position of adverb

    That's correct...and welcome to Madrid:)

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    Re: position of adverb

    In fact, the adverb can be in different places in a sentence - it doesn't always have to come straight after a verb.

    1. He only speaks English.
    This is what you will most often hear colloquially, and the person hearing this will understand that English is the only language spoken by the man referred to.
    2. Strictly grammatically, the sentence could mean, he speaks English, but perhaps is unable to read or write it - he only speaks it.

    To achieve the meaning in (1), the sentence would correctly be:
    "He speaks only English."**

    **Strictly speaking, even this is not grammatically correct in some grammarians books, where it should be:
    "He speaks English only."
    I think it can sound stilted and therefore ostentatiously showing off that 'I know my grammar'.

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    Re: position of adverb

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarahliu View Post
    English grammar says that when an adverb modifies a verb, it should be behind the verb.
    I have no idea from where you might have got that idea, but English grammar actually says nothing of the sort, as some of the the simplest English sentences imaginable, e.g.

    He runs quickly.

    (adverb 'quickly' modifying verb 'runs'), clearly demonstrate!

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    Re: position of adverb

    English grammar says that when an adverb modifies a verb, it should be behind the verb.
    Philo:
    In your sentence, "He runs quickly", the adverb IS behind the verb.

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    Re: position of adverb

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    I have no idea from where you might have got that idea, but English grammar actually says nothing of the sort, as some of the the simplest English sentences imaginable, e.g.

    He runs quickly.

    (adverb 'quickly' modifying verb 'runs'), clearly demonstrate!

    In this case, can we say HE QUICKLY RUNS? since the adverb can be in different places as pointed out by David. What's the rule for adverb's position.

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    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Re: position of adverb

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarahliu View Post
    In this case, can we say HE QUICKLY RUNS? since the adverb can be in different places as pointed out by David. What's the rule for adverb's position.
    Firstly, my apologies for misreading 'behind' as 'before' in your original question (just FYI, 'behind' has no meaning in this context: 'after' and 'before' are the only English prepositions appropriate for specifying the relative positions of words in a text.)

    As for your question, yes, many adverbs can go in either position.

    He works quickly.

    and

    He quickly worked out the answer.

    are both correct.

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    Re: position of adverb


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    Re: position of adverb

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    Thanks to all.

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    heidita's Avatar
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    Re: position of adverb

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    In fact, the adverb can be in different places in a sentence - it doesn't always have to come straight after a verb.

    1. He only speaks English.
    This is what you will most often hear colloquially, and the person hearing this will understand that English is the only language spoken by the man referred to.
    2. Strictly grammatically, the sentence could mean, he speaks English, but perhaps is unable to read or write it - he only speaks it.

    To achieve the meaning in (1), the sentence would correctly be:
    "He speaks only English."**

    **Strictly speaking, even this is not grammatically correct in some grammarians books, where it should be:
    "He speaks English only."
    I think it can sound stilted and therefore ostentatiously showing off that 'I know my grammar'.
    Now that we are at it David, you might have mentioned that it can also be moved to the beginning of a sentence.

    Only he speaks English.

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