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  1. 羡鱼-Xianyu's Avatar

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    #1

    Can a adverb modify a noun?

    Hello, teachers! Could you give me a hand, please?
    Can a adverb modify a noun?Why 'exactly' is not 'exact' in this sentence?
    As we know, a adverb only can modify a noun, a adjective, a adverb, and it can't modify a noun, right?
    However, in this example the adverb 'exactly' is modifying the noun 'four moths'. Is this correct?


    Both these ships set out from Shanghai on June 18th, 1872 on an exciting race to England. This race, which went on for exactly four months, was the last of its kind. It marked the end of the great tradition of ships with sails and the beginning of a new era.


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    #2

    Re: Can a adverb modify a noun?

    No, an adverb usually modifies an adjective, a verb (adverbial), or another adverb. In your excerpt, 'exactly' is an adv. and it modifies 'went on'.

    EDIT: The second sentence is toe-curlingly nonsensical.
    Last edited by Kondorosi; 29-Jan-2010 at 15:50.

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    #3

    Re: Can a adverb modify a noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by 羡鱼-Xianyu View Post
    Hello, teachers! Could you give me a hand, please?
    Can a adverb modify a noun?Why 'exactly' is not 'exact' in this sentence?
    As we know, a adverb only can modify a noun, a adjective, a adverb, and it can't modify a noun, right?
    However, in this example the adverb 'exactly' is modifying the noun 'four moths'. Is this correct?


    Both these ships set out from Shanghai on June 18th, 1872 on an exciting race to England. This race, which went on for exactly four months, was the last of its kind. It marked the end of the great tradition of ships with sails and the beginning of a new era.
    ***NOT A TEACHER***Maybe it depends on the word "modify." Many grammar books describe an adverb like "exactly" as an adverb that "focuses" or "distinguishes" a certain part of a sentence. These books would say that "exactly" focuses on "four months." The race went on for four months -- exactly (FOUR MONTHS). Another example -- Tom: Someone said you did it. Mona: Oh, yeah? Exactly (WHO) said it? Thank you.

  2. 羡鱼-Xianyu's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: Can a adverb modify a noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kondorosi View Post
    No, an adverb usually modifies an adjective, a verb (adverbial), or another adverb. In your excerpt, 'exactly' is an adv. and it modifies 'went'.
    Hi Kondorosi, thank you for your help!
    I have a question:
    If 'exactly' modifies 'went', why it is not after 'went'? I mean can I rephrase this sentence like this?

    This race, which went exactly on for four months, was the last of its kind.

    I think that it is more appropriate for 'exactly' to put there?
    That's just my opinion.

  3. 羡鱼-Xianyu's Avatar

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    #5

    Re: Can a adverb modify a noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***NOT A TEACHER***Maybe it depends on the word "modify." Many grammar books describe an adverb like "exactly" as an adverb that "focuses" or "distinguishes" a certain part of a sentence. These books would say that "exactly" focuses on "four months." The race went on for four months -- exactly (FOUR MONTHS). Another example -- Tom: Someone said you did it. Mona: Oh, yeah? Exactly (WHO) said it? Thank you.
    Hi TheParser, thank you for your reply!
    Maybe you are right. It depends on what we want to stress.
    You know English is not my first language, so I can't understand some subtle well like many native speakers. I mean I don't have language sense like you, so sometimes I really need grammar to help me.

    Thanks!!


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    #6

    Re: Can a adverb modify a noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***NOT A TEACHER***Maybe it depends on the word "modify." Many grammar books describe an adverb like "exactly" as an adverb that "focuses" or "distinguishes" a certain part of a sentence. These books would say that "exactly" focuses on "four months." The race went on for four months -- exactly (FOUR MONTHS). Another example -- Tom: Someone said you did it. Mona: Oh, yeah? Exactly (WHO) said it? Thank you.
    If I dig deeper into the structure of the sentence, I realize that the sentence is not as black-and-white to me as it first appeared.


    (1)[The race] [went on] [for X months]. = (2)[The race] [lasted] [X months].

    The two sentences mean roughly the same thing. In terms of meaning, 'X months' does the same thing in #2 as it does in #1. In #2, it is indeterminable between an adverbial and a direct object. We might think with sufficient justification that the same holds true for #1. Almost. X months = prep. complement; PP = adverb?, PP = Od?

    (1) How long did the race last?
    (2) How long did the race go on? (go on = prep verb and not a free combi)

    Looks like (for) X months has some adverbial characteristics. Regarding the question of 'What modifies what?', 'for X months' and 'went on' both both seduce me.

  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Can a adverb modify a noun?

    You're right this time, Kondorosi (but not when you said 'exactly' modified 'went on'). As you say, '[for] X months has some adverbial characteristics' - it is an adverbial phrase. The OP's is a very good question. What's 'exactly' doing? I think it's modifiying an implicit verb that says how the measurement is made: 'it went on for [a period that could be measured as lasting for] exactly four months.' But maybe that's over-complicated...

    I look forward to hearing what other teachers have to say about this use of 'exactly'; and many thanks to Xianyu for this interesting question.

    b


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    #8

    Re: Can a adverb modify a noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    You're right this time, Kondorosi (but not when you said 'exactly' modified 'went on').
    Yeah, I know. I made the first comment on the hoof.

    1. The race went on exactly for two months.
    2. The race lasted two months.
    3. The ticket cost two pennies.

    In #1, exactly modifies the adverbial prepositional phrase.
    In #2, two months looks like a direct object. Or is it an adverbial objective?
    In #3, according to CGEL by Quirk et al., two pennies is indeterminable between a direct object and an adverbial. Sentence 2 and 3 look similar in terms of syntax. two months does the same thing in sentence 1 and 2. That for before two months makes the difference between sentence 1 and sentence 2. 'for two months' answers the question 'How long did the race go on?' The race went on until April. Substitution of a different adverbial for the original one works. It is for two months that the race went on. Clefting works too. Adverbial.

  5. indonesia's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Can a adverb modify a noun?

    While everyone is talking adverbs, could someone please give me some example sentences where 'next door' is serving as an adverb, and a few sentences where it is doing the job of an adjective, please.


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    #10

    Re: Can a adverb modify a noun?

    The bakery is next door to the bank.
    Our next door neighbor is very noisy.

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