I am in a Syntax class where we use the textbook Syntax: A Generative Introduction, 3rd Edition by Andrew Carnie.

There is a tree presented in the chapter on x-bar theory that indicates that the words "bright" and "dull" are adverbs and not adjectives. I am racking my brain trying to figure out if I am missing something or misunderstanding something or if it is just a mistake.

If it isn't a mistake, why are they presented as adverbs instead of adjectives?

Thank you!enter image description here

1 Answer 1


The distinction between "adjective" and "adverb" is not always clear in English, where many words can be used interchangeably as either. But the usual definition is that adjectives modify nouns, while adverbs modify adjectives (and some other things). Since "bright" and "dull" here modify adjectives, they are called adverbs rather than adjectives.

  • Thank you so much for your answer! That clears it up for me!
    – Acidrainx
    Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 23:38

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