In the sentence:

Daenerys should probably keep that green dragon-egg.

What is the syntactic category of "probably" here? Is it an adverb? If so, what substitution test should I use to verify that it is an adverb?

  • "...it is often misused as an adverb by semi-literates." HAHA I feel personally attacked.
    – Rellod
    Apr 30, 2020 at 9:37
  • Your usage of StackExchange is rather confusing. You originally posted this as an answer, then either deleted it or it was deleted by the mods. You correctly added it as a comment, but it's still not in the right place, given that you presumably were directing this towards @fdb in Yellow Sky's answer ...
    – Lou
    Apr 30, 2020 at 12:56

1 Answer 1


It's an adverb, since it is used between the parts of the compound verbal predicate; since there is the adjective 'probable', and an adjective + the '-ly' suffix produces an adverb; and since it modifies the whole sentence and that is one of the functions of adverbs.

The synonyms are:

in all likelihood, in all probability, as likely as not, very likely, most likely, likely, as like as not, ten to one, doubtless, no doubt, all things considered, taking all things into consideration, all things being equal, possibly, perhaps, maybe, it may be, presumably, on the face of it, apparently.

  • 1
    In correct English "likely" is an adjective, not an adverb, though it is often misused as an adverb by semi-literates. Same objection against "very/most likely".
    – fdb
    Oct 29, 2014 at 20:37
  • @fdb - Isn't it both? "In standard British English, when likely is used as an adverb it must be preceded by a submodifier such as very, most, or more, as in we will most likely see him later. In informal US English, use without a submodifier is very common and not regarded as incorrect, as in we will likely see him later." Here and the same here.
    – Yellow Sky
    Oct 29, 2014 at 20:44
  • 4
    @fdb: please don't use tendentious words like "misused" in comments in linguistics SE. COCA (the Corpus of Contemporary American English) has 8763 instances of "likely + verb", most of which are adverbial uses, while the British National Corpus has 251 instances of "likely=AV0" (i.e. as an adverb). You might not like this usage, but it is clearly common in both these varieties of English. "Misuse" is a value judgment which has no place in a linguistics discussion (except possibly in sociolinguistics).
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 29, 2014 at 21:11

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