This is something I was just thinking about. Adjectives in a lot of languages can also take modifiers of their own: very big, more intelligent, etc... But is there an actual word for the part of speech such words comprise? I've mostly seen them thrown under 'adverbs', even though some can't be used adverbially, aka to modify a verb.

Adjectives modify nouns, adverbs modify verbs, so what modifies adjectives and adverbs?

I really feel like they're a part of speech of their own, but grammarians don't seem to agree with me, as I've already mentioned.

I for one prefer linguistic terminology over what terminology you're taught in grammar class. I don't like to use the terms 'relative clause' and 'dependent clause' (or w/e the terms are), I just use 'adjectival clause' and 'adverbial clause' all the time, because I find them far more logical. And besides, they often have words for parts of speech that you don't see in your average grammar class (such as stative verb and coverb, granted English doesn't have words in either of those parts of speech, but I see that as irrelevant here).

Is there even a name for words in this part of speech? I don't think there would be too many words in that category, but so what? There's some languages on this planet that only contain 2 or 3 prepositions (Tagalog and Tok Pisin come to mind).

  • "more" can modify a verb or verb phrase or something like that: "I run more than my cousin". If you say it is not an adverb in "more intelligent", it seems like you have to assign "more" to multiple parts of speech depending on how it is used. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 16:33
  • Even so, how would you classify a word like 'very'? Just throw it into the 'particles' category, which seems to mostly just serve the purpose of being a miscellaneous tag for words that simply don't fit into any other part of speech.
    – user19661
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 16:46
  • I think it's widely accepted that certain words have more specific behavior than would be suggested by their broad POS classification. E.g. there are the predicative-only adjectives in English (asleep, alone, afraid), which are still called adjectives even though they can't be used in all the contexts in which we can use a typical adjective. Similarly, "very" can be classified as an adverb even if it can't be used to modify a verb: just call it an adverb with special behavior. I don't know if this kind of analysis is more problematic in other languages. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:00
  • 2
    Yes: it is adverb! Adverbs typically modify verbs, as their name implies, but they also modify other adverbs, adjectives and occasionally nouns. It may be possible to sub-categorise them according to what categories they can modify (though there would be large overlaps) but there is no distinct category (part of speech) for them. I'm assuming we're talking about English here, of course.
    – BillJ
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:19
  • I omitted to mention that adverbs can also modify determinatives ("Virtually all copies are torn"), PPs ("It lasted almost until midnight") and noun phrases (as opposed to nouns) ("I'm virtually his only friend").
    – BillJ
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 18:15

2 Answers 2


In standard average European languages and also in classical Latin and Greek, there is no new part of speech for a modifier of an adjective or adverb, it is just an adverb.

I don't know whether there are languages having "adadjectives" that are different from adverbs.

  • 'Very' is an example of an intensifier that modifies adjectives (or adverbs derived from adjectives) but not verbs.
    – amI
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 18:35
  • @aml I can imagine a language where adverbs and adadjectives are formally different (e.g., by having different suffixes or prefixes). In English (where most adverbs are marked by -ly) and modern Romance languages (where adverbs have the ending -ment or some cognate) this is not the case. Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 9:56
  • They may not be formally different (distinctively marked), but they could certainly be POSed differently. One problem is that 'adverb' has two meanings: 1. [adverbial] words added to modify actions; 2. [intensifier] words added to modify qualities.
    – amI
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 20:32
  • @aml But in the place of an intensifier, you can also have a standard (derived) adverb, e.g., a shockingly beautiful girl. So the delineation of intensifiers from adverbs is not that easy. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 12:17
  • Sorry -- I didn't mean that only intensifiers can modify qualities. Intensifiers modify the quantities of qualities, in a way that you can't modify the quantities of actions (only their qualities).
    – amI
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 19:39

Such kind of words can be a Intesnifier, you can tag it as a Intensifier, intensifier works as a modifier for adjective in NLP point of view we take is as Intensifier to avoid the ambiguisties among the adverb and Intensifier. sometime its also called adverb according to Tradintional grammar. eg very beautiful girl. very big stone. in Hindi- bahut(INTF) achhi (ADJ)ladki (N). very beautiful girl. INTF- intesifier, ADJ -adjective, N- Noun

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