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Using Adverbs and Adverb Phrases as Verb Phrase Modifiers

Traditional grammars define adverbs as words that describe verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and clauses. An adverb phrase consists of an adverb plus any other adverbs functioning as adverb phrase modifiers.

In grammar, a verb phrase modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that modifies or describes a verb or verb phrase. Adverbs and adverb phrases sometimes function as verb phrase modifiers in English. Examples of adverbs and adverb phrases as verb phrase modifiers include the following:

  • The librarian quickly leafed through the book.
  • Do not run with scissors!
  • The autumn leaves fall swiftly.
  • He moved slowly and spoke quietly.
  • She was frantically searching for her new shoes.
  • The child ate the vegetables enthusiastically.

Note that the difference between verb phrase modifiers and adjunct adverbials is often subtle. In many cases, an adverb or adverb phrase can be analyzed as either a verb phrase modifier or an adjunct adverbial without changing the meaning of the sentence.

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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