From Manning's Foundations of Statistical Natural Language Processing:

Adverbs modify a verb in the same way that adjectives modify adverb nouns. Adverbs specify place, time, manner or degree:

(3.22) a. She often travels to Las Vegas.
b. She allegedly committed perjury.
c. She started her career off very impressively.

Some adverbs, such as often, are not derived from adjectives and lack the suffix -ly.

Some adverbs can also modify adjectives ((3.23a) and (3.23b)) and other adverbs (3.23c).

(3.23) a. a very unlikely event
b. a shockingly frank exchange
c. She started her career off very impressively.

Certain adverbs like very are specialized to the role of modifying adjectives and adverbs and do not modify verbs. They are called degree degree adverbs adverbs. Their distribution is thus quite distinct from other adverbs, and they are sometimes regarded as a separate part of speech called qualifiers.

In English, are adverbs classified into two groups: either modify verbs (not adjectives and adverbs), or modify adjectives and adverbs (not verbs)?


  • No; and that’s not what the text says either. If any grouping is implied, it’s one between those who modify verbs and those who don’t; the group that modifies verbs can then be subdivided into those that can also modify adjectives and/or adverbs. But it’s not common, as far as I know, to actually group adverbs in this way. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 5 '20 at 13:43
  • can you elaborate and give examples? – Tim Jun 5 '20 at 13:45
  • Examples of what? I’m just paraphrasing what the quote in your question says. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 5 '20 at 13:48
  • 1
    Additionally, some adverbs modify whole predicates. – Colin Fine Jun 5 '20 at 13:48
  • 1
    And sometimes people will classify a word as an adverb because they can't figure out what else to do with it. – curiousdannii Jun 5 '20 at 14:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.