Students understanding the complexity of language

Chapter 01-06: Adverbs


chapter 1: adverbs

An ADVERB is a form-class word that usually modifies verbs,  adjectives, adverbs, phrases, clauses, or a whole sentence. A primary test for adverbs/adverbials is that it frequently can be moved  around in its sentence, or deleted, and the sentence will still make sense.
A prototypical adverb will have five characteristics:
  1. Adverb-making morpheme
  2. Comparative or Superlative (using an inflectional morpheme)   [-er] or   [-est]
  3. Comparative or Superlative (using MORE or MOST)
  4. Move in its sentence (or deleted)
  5. Can fit the adverb frame sentence: The man told his story <BLANK>.
 These five characteristics serve as the primary tests for identifying adverbs.
In general, a prototypical adverb will have 4-5 of these characteristics. The more adverb characteristics a word has, the more prototypical it is. The fewer adverb characteristics a word has, the more it becomes a peripheral case. They  share many inflectional and derivational morphemes with adjectives. No  single formal or functional characteristic can identify every adverb.

You can only be sure a word is an adverb if it fits the  frame sentence. The frame sentence can be any complete sentence with a  final slot available for an optional adverb. For example, the frame  sentence could be:

  • The woman walked her dog _____.
  • The man told his story _____.
  • The child cried _____.
  • The dog ate his bone _____.
 Prototypical adverbs like slow, slowlyfastgladlymechanically, and basically fit these sentences and have other characteristics of prototypical adverbs:
Has an adverb-making morpheme:
  • slowly
  • basically
 Takes a comparative or superlative morpheme:
  • faster, fastest
  • slower, slowest
 Can be made comparative or superlative by using more or most:
  • more gladly, more mechanically
  • most gladly, most mechanically
 Can be qualified:
  • rather slowly
    very fast
    quite gladly
  • most basically
 Can be moved within a sentence:
  • He ate gladly.
    He gladly ate.
  • Gladly he ate.
 Members of all four form classes can be divided into  further subclasses based on certain semantic features. These features  often have grammatical consequences. Adverb subclasses include adverbs  that describe the following categories:
  • Manner
  • Time            
  • Place            
  • Degree            
  • Frequency and Number            
  • Duration            
 When analyzing for adverbs, we classify the FORM of the analyzed word as adverb. You can use the following flowchart as a guide for your analysis: