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Many definitions of adverbs, like those in Polish grammar theory, state that adverbs are an invariable part of speech (they do not conjugate with verbs) in opposite to adjectives, which decline with nouns.

Is this the 'universal rule'? Is there any documented case of natural language, in which adverbs conjugate together with a modified verb (for example, by person or tense)?

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  • I don't know of any specifically, but I have to imagine such a language exists. In Japanese adjectives are verbal, and one conjugation is to make the adjective act adverbially. Japanese has no agreement, but it's easy to imagine a language with agreement which uses conjugated verbal adjectives, which would presumably have the adverbs agree with nominals. Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 8:29
  • I'm presuming you mean the title to be "conjugate adverbs".
    – jlawler
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 18:13
  • By definition, adverbs cannot have conjugations, since conjugation is the inflection of verbs. What adverbs can have is declension (inflection of non-verb). Or simply use the word "inflection" which is applicable for any word.
    – Seninha
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 0:53

1 Answer 1

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I'm not sure about conjuation in specific, but inflection of adverbs is definitely possible. There are numerous examples in various languages:

  1. English: can man travel faster than light
  2. German: kann man schneller als das Licht reisen
  3. Serbo-Croatian: da li može čov(j)ek putovati brže od sv(j)etla

In all three of these languages, the bolded word is an inflected adverb (originally fast/schnell/brzo). I'm not sure about other languages, but these three do definitely have it.

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    I could be wrong here but I think this could be analysed as derivational. For example, a transitivising affix on a verb is much the same thing as this, and is not normally seen as an inflection. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 12:36
  • @Wilson there exists a possibility, but there is no real reason to postulate a wholly parallel set of derivations and inflections fully identical in form and function that differ only in the word class they apply to that I can see
    – Darkgamma
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 2:08

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