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Chapter 2: Categories

1 Lexical Categories

1.1 Nouns (N) and Verbs (V)

1.2 Adjectives and Adverbs

1.3 Prepositions

2 Grammatical Categories

2.1 Determiner

2.2 Auxiliary

2.3 Coordinator and Complementizer

3 Personal pronouns


4 What new words and loanwords tell us

5 Conclusion


Special Topic: Adjective and Adverb

Further Reading


In this chapter, I provide descriptions of the main lexical categories: Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, and Preposition. These categories are called lexical because they carry meaning (have synonyms and antonyms) and, as we'll see in the next chapter, they are the heads of phrases. There are also functional or grammatical categories: Determiner, Auxiliary, Coordinator, and Complementizer. These categories are called grammatical or functional categories since they do not contribute to the meaning of a sentence but determine the syntax of it. They do not function as heads of phrases but merely as parts or as connectors. I'll refer to them as grammatical categories. Prepositions are a little of both as will be explained in section 1.3, as are pronouns, e.g. it, she, there, which is discussed in section 3.

     When languages borrow new words, these will mainly be nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives, i.e. lexical categories. Therefore, the difference between lexical and grammatical is often put in terms of open as opposed to closed categories, the lexical categories being open (new words can be added) and the grammatical ones being closed (new words are not easily added). Section 4 will examine that in a limited way.

1.     Lexical Categories

The five lexical categories are: Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, and Preposition. They carry meaning, and often words with a similar (synonym) or opposite meaning (antonym) can be found. Frequently, the noun is said to be a person, place, or thing and the verb is said to be an event or act. These are semantic definitions. In this chapter, it is shown that semantic definitions are not completely sufficient and that we need to define categories syntactically (according to what they combine with) and morphologically (according to how the words are formed). For example, syntactically speaking, chair is a noun because it combines with the article (or determiner) the; morphologically speaking, chair is a noun because it takes a plural ending as in chairs.

1.1     Nouns (N) and Verbs (V)

A noun generally indicates a person, place or thing (i.e. this is its meaning). For instance, chair, table, and book are nouns since they refer to things. However, if the distinction between a noun as person, place or thing and a verb as an event or action were the only distinction, certain nouns such as action and destruction would be verbs, since they imply action. These elements are nevertheless seen as nouns. Thus, in (1) and (2), actions and destruction are preceded by the article the, are followed by a phrase starting with a preposition, can be pluralized with an -s, and occur in sentences with verbs (came and caused). As will be shown in chapter 4, their functions in the sentence are also typical for nouns rather than verbs: in (1), actions is part of the subject, and in (2), destruction is part of the object:

1.   The actions by the government came too late.

2.   The hurricane caused the destruction of the villages.

Apart from plural -s, other morphological characteristics of nouns are shown in (3) and (4). Possessive 's (or genitive case) appears only on nouns, e.g. Jenny in (3), and affixes such as -er and -ism, e.g. writer and postmodernism in (4), are also typical for nouns:

3.     Jenny's neighbor always knows the answer.

4.   That writer has modernized postmodernism.

Syntactic reasons for calling nouns nouns are that nouns are often preceded by the, as in (1), (2), and (3), or that, as in (4); and that if followed by another noun, there has to be a preposition, such as by in (1) and of in (2), connecting them.

     The nouns action and destruction have verbal counterparts, namely act and destroy, and (1) and (2) can be paraphrased as (5) and (6) respectively:

5.   The government acted too late.

6.   The hurricane destroyed the villages.

Just as nouns cannot always be defined as people or things, verbs are not always acts, even though acted and destroyed are. For instance, the verb be in (7) does not express an action. Hence, we need to add state to the semantic definition of verb, as well as emotion to account for sentences such as (8):

7.   The book is red and blue.

8.   The book seemed nice (to me).

Some of the morphological characteristics of verbs are that they can express tense, e.g. past in (5), (6), and (8) and present in (7); that the verb ends in -s when it has a third person singular subject (see chapter 4) and is present tense; and that it may have an affix typical for verbs, namely -ize, e.g. in modernized in (4) (note that it is -ise in British English). Syntactically, they can be preceded by an auxiliary and followed by a noun, as in (6), rather than by a preposition and a noun, as in (2). Some of the major differences between nouns and verbs are summarized in table 2.1 below.

     In English, nouns can easily be used as verbs and verbs as nouns. Therefore, it is necessary to look at the context in which a word occurs, as in (9), for example, where Shakespeare uses vnckle, i.e. `uncle', as a verb as well as a noun:

9.     Shakespeare, Richard II, II, 3, 96 (First Folio edition)

     York: Grace me no Grace, nor Vnckle me,

     I am no Traytors Vnckle; and that word Grace

     In an vngracious mouth, is but prophane.

Thus, using the criteria discussed above, the first instance of `uncle' would be a verb since the noun following it does not need to be connected to the verb by means of a preposition, and the second `uncle' is a noun since `traitor' has the possessive 's. Note that Shakespeare's spelling and grammar is far from `regularized' and hence it may be difficult to examine.

     Other examples where a word can be both a noun and a verb are: table, to table; chair, to chair; floor, to floor; book, to book; fax, to fax; telephone, to telephone; and walk, to walk. Some of these started out as nouns and some as verbs. For instance, fax is the shortened form of the noun facsimile but is now used as a verb as well. An often-used sentence where police is used as noun, verb, and adjective respectively is (10):

10.     Police police police outing

As a summary to section 1.1, I provide a table. Morphological differences involve the shape of an element while syntactic ones involve how the element fits in a sentence. The semantic differences involve meaning, but remember to be careful here since nouns, for instance, can have verbal meanings as in (1) and (2) above

  Noun    Verb

a.plural -s  with a few exceptions, e.g.   children, deer, mice  

b. possessive 's

c. some end in -ity, -ness -ation, -er, -ion, -ment

h. past tense -ed with a few exceptions, e.g. went, left

i. third person singular agreement -s

j. some end in -ize,-ate


d. preceded by the/a and this/that/these/those

e. modified by adjective

f. followed by preposition and noun

k. preceded by an auxiliary e.g. have

l. modified by adverb

m. followed by noun

Semantics g.     person, place, thing   n.     act, event, state, emotion

TABLE 2.1: Some differences between N and V


Differences (e) and (l) have not been commented on in this section, but will be in the next. As a transition, I provide (11), where the adjective expensive modifies (i.e. says something about) the noun book, whereas the adverb quickly modifies the verb sold out:

11.  That expensive book sold out quickly.

Beginning of chapter

1.2     Adjectives and Adverb

Adverbs and Adjectives are semantically very similar in that both modify another element, i.e. they describe a quality of another word: quick/ly, nice/ly, etc. As just mentioned, the main syntactic distinction is as expressed in (12):

12.  An adjective modifies a noun;

     an adverb modifies a verb, and (a degree adverb) an adjective, or adverb.

Since an adjective modifies a noun, the quality it describes will be those appropriate to a noun, e.g. nationality (American, Dutch, Iranian), size (big, large, thin), color (red, yellow, blue), or character trait (happy, fortunate, lovely, pleasant, obnoxious). Adverbs typically modify actions and will then provide information typical of those, e.g. manner (wisely, fast), or duration (frequently, often), or speaker attitude (fortunately). When adverbs modify adjectives or other adverbs, they are typically degree adverbs (very, so, too).Some instances of the `correct' use of the adjective nice are given in (13) and (14) and of the adverbs very and quickly in (15) and (16):

13.  The book is nice.

14.  A nice book is on the table.

15.  This Hopi bowl is very precious.

16.  He drove very quickly.

In (13) and (14), nice modifies the noun book. In (15), very modifies the adjective precious; and in (16), it modifies the adverb quickly, which in its turn modifies the verb drove. (We will come back to some of the issues related to the precise nature of the modification in chapters 3, 4, and 9). In the `special topic' section at the end of this chapter, it will be shown that speakers often violate rule (12), but that these so-called violations are rule-governed as well.

     Generally speaking, an adverb is formed from an adjective by adding -ly, as in (15) and (16). However, be careful with this morphological distinction: not all adverbs end in -ly and some adjectives end in -ly. If you are uncertain as to whether a word is an adjective or an adverb, either look in a dictionary to see what the correct form is, or use it in a sentence to see what it modifies. For instance, fast, hard, low are both adjectives and adverbs. In (17), fast is an adjective because it modifies a noun, but in (18), it is an adverb since it modifies a verb:

17.  That fast car must be a police car.

18.  That car drives fast.

     In a number of cases, words such as hard and fast can be either adjectives or adverbs, depending on the interpretation. In (19), hard can either modify the noun person, i.e. the person looks tough or nasty, in which case it is an adjective, or it can modify look (meaning that the person was looking all over the place for something, i.e. the effort was great) in which case hard is an adverb:

19.  That person looked hard.

     A last point to make about adjectives and adverbs is that most (if they are gradable) can be used to compare or contrast two or more things. We call such forms the comparative (e.g. better than) or superlative (e.g. the best). One way to make these forms is to add -er/-est, as in nicer/nicest. Not all adjectives/adverbs allow this ending, however; some need to be preceded by more/most, as in more intelligent, most intelligent. Sometimes, people are creative with comparatives and superlatives, especially in advertising, as in (20) and (21), or in earlier forms as in (22):

20.     mechanic: `the expensivest oil is ...'.

21.     advertizement: `the bestest best ever phone'.

22.     Shakespeare: Lear II, iii, 7

     To take the basest and most poorest shape ...

There are also irregular comparative and superlative forms, such as good, better, best; bad, worse, worst. These have to be learned.

     To summarize this section, I'll provide a table listing differences between adjectives and adverbs:

  Adjectives Adverbs
Morphology a. no -ly in most cases d.ends in -ly in many cases (exceptions fast, now)
Syntax b. modifies N e. modifies V, Adj, or Adv
Semantics c. describe qualities typical of nouns, e.g. nationality, color, size f. same but of verbs etc., e.g. place, manner, time, duration

TABLE 2.2: Differences between adjectives and adverbs

Beginning of chapter

1.3     Prepositions

Prepositions often express place or time (at, in, on, before), direction (to, from, into, down), or relation (of, about, with, like, as, near). They are invariable in form. In a sentence, they usually occur before a noun (or Noun Phrase, see the next chapter), as (23) shows, where the prepositions are in bold:

23.  With their books about linguistics, they went to school.

On occasion, prepositions are used on their own, as in (24). In such cases, they are often considered adverbs or particles (see chapter 5). Infrequently, they are used as verbs, as in (25):

24.  He went in; they ran out; he jumped up.

25.  They upped the price.

     Some other examples of prepositions are: during, around, after, against, despite, except, without, towards, until, till, inside. Sequences such as instead of, outside of, away from, due to and as for are also seen as prepositions, even though they consist of two words.

     Some prepositions have very little lexical meaning and are mainly used for grammatical purposes. For instance, of in (26) expresses a relationship between two nouns rather than a meaning:

26.  The door of that car.

Prepositions are therefore seen as a category with lexical and grammatical characteristics. Here, however, I will just treat them as lexical, for the sake of simplicity.

Beginning of chapter

2     Grammatical Categories

The grammatical categories are: Determiner, Auxiliary, Coordinator, and Complementizer. As also mentioned above, it is hard to define grammatical categories in terms of meaning because they have very little. Their function is to make the lexical categories fit together.

2.1     Determiner

The determiner category includes the articles a(n) and the, as well as demonstratives, possessive pronouns, possessive nouns, some quantifiers, and some numerals. So, determiner (or D) is an umbrella term for all of these. Determiners occur with a noun to specify which noun is meant or whose it is. Examples of a(n) and the are given in (13) and (14) above. There are four demonstratives in English: this, that, these, and those, and an example occurs in (17) above.

     Possessive pronouns include my, your, his, her, its, our, and their, as in (27). Nouns can be possessives as well, but in that case they have an -'s (or ') ending, as in (28):

27.     Their dog ate my food.

28.     Bor's food was eaten by Pim.

In (27), their and my specify whose dog and whose food it was, and in (28) the possessive noun Bor's specifies whose food was eaten.

     There is a special class of possessive pronouns that occurs on its own, namely mine, yours, his, hers, ours, and theirs, as in (29):

29.  That candy is not mine, but it is yours.

These pronouns appear when the noun they specify has been deleted. Thus, (29) could be rewritten as (30), with mine replaced by my candy. The result is awkward, however:

30.  That candy is not my candy, but it is your candy.

     Determiners as in (27) and (28) precede nouns just like adjectives, but whereas a determiner points out which entity is meant (it specifies), an adjective describes the quality (it modifies). When both a determiner and an adjective precede a noun, the determiner always precedes the adjective, as in (31), and not the other way round, as in (32) (indicated by the asterisk). In chapter 9, this order will be elaborated on:

31.     Their irritating dog ate my delicious food.

32.     *Irritating their dog ate delicious my food.

     Quantifiers such as any, many, much, and all are usually considered determiners, e.g. in much work, many people, and all research. Some are used before the other determiners, namely, all, both, and half, as in (33). These quantifiers are called pre-determiners, and abbreviated Pre-D. Finally, quantifiers are adjectival, as in the many problems and in (34):

33.  All the books; half that wealthy man's money; both those problems.

34.  The challenges are many/few.

Numerals are sometimes determiners, as in two books, and sometimes more like adjectives, as in my two books. In a table, the determiners can be listed as follows. I have added Adjective to the table since some of the words that are clear determiners can also be adjectives. The categories are not always a 100% clear-cut:

  Pre-D D Adj


all, both, half


some, many, all, few, any, much, every, etc. many, few



  the, a  
demonstrative   that, this  
possessive   my, etc; NP's  
numeral   one, two, etc. one, two, etc.

TABLE 2.3: Determiners

Beginning of chapter

2.2     Auxiliary

This category will be dealt with in detail in chapter 6. For now, it suffices to say that, as its name implies, the auxiliary functions to help another verb, but does not itself contribute greatly to the meaning of the sentence. Verbs such as have, be, and do can be full verbs, as in (35), or auxiliaries, as in (36). In (36), have does not mean `possess' or `hold', but contributes to the grammatical meaning of the sentence, namely past tense with present relevance. The same is true for be in (37); it contributes to the grammatical meaning emphasizing the continuous nature of the event:

35.  I have a book in my hand.

36.  I have worked here for 5 years.

37.     Santa may be working Thanksgiving Day.

Because auxiliaries help other verbs (except when they are main verbs as in (35)), they cannot occur on their own, as in (38), which is ungrammatical:

38.  *I must a book.

2.3     Coordinator and Complementizer

Coordinators such as and and or join two elements of the same kind, e.g. the nouns in (39). They are also called coordinating conjunctions, but in this book, we'll use coordinator.

     Complementizers such as that, because, whether, if, and since are also called subordinating conjunctions or subordinators. We will use complementizer. They join two clauses where one clause is subordinate to the other (see chapter 7 for more), as in (40):

39.     Rigobertha and Pablo went to Madrid and Barcelona.

40.     Rigobertha and Pablo left because Sunny was about to arrive.

Like prepositions, coordinators and complementizers are invariable, i.e. never have an ending, in English.

     There is a group of words, namely yet, however, nevertheless, therefore, and so, as in (41), that connects one sentence to another:

41.  Jane Austen, Emma, Vol 1, chap 8

     "you are anxious for a compliment, so I will tell you that you have improved her".

Some grammarians see these as complementizers; others see them as adverbs. With the punctuation as in (41), the complementizer scenario is more obvious since so connects the two sentences. However, so sometimes appears at the beginning of a sentence, in which case it could be an adverb. I leave it up to you to decide what to do with these. Remember that so can also be a degree adverb.

3.     Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns, such as I, me, she, he and it, are seen as grammatical categories by many. The reason is that they don't mean very much: they are used to refer to phrases already mentioned. However, in this book, I classify personal pronouns as nouns, since they very much function like full Noun Phrases (more on this in the next chapter). Thus, a determiner such as the cannot stand on its own, but she, as in (42) from Shakespeare, can:

42.     Hamlet, IV, v, 14

     'Twere good she were spoken with,

     For she may strew dangerous coniectures

     in ill breeding minds.

Because pronouns stand on their own, and can function as subjects or objects (see chapter 4 for more), I consider pronouns lexical.

4.   What new words and loanwords tell us

Some of the new words of the 20th century are: pizza, angst, fax, e-mail, phat, AIDS, website, browser, screenager, to surf, Nethead, infomaze, e-zine, gopher, ...., to name but a few, and they are all lexical categories! Some of these are loanwords (angst from German), some are extensions of other meanings (surf the net from surf the waves), some are clipped (electronic-magazine becomes e-zine), others come from special cultures (e.g. phat, meaning `desirable, cool'), but all are lexical, rather than functional categories.

     Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky includes a number of `nonsense' words. As an exercise, at the end of the chapter, you'll be asked what category each of these is. For now, it is enough to point out that they are all lexical:

     'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

     Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

     All mimsy were the borogoves

     And the mome raths outgrabe.


     "Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

     The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

     Beware the Jubjub bird and shun

     The frumious Bandersnatch!"


     He took his vorpal sword in hand:

     Longtime the manxome foe he sought -

     So rested he by the Tumtum tree

     And stood a while in thought.  (...)

     There are other phenomena that the lexical/grammatical distinction sheds light on. For instance, children learn lexical categories before functional ones, and aphasics can have difficulties with either lexical or functional categories (see Exercise D below). So there is empirical (from the outside world) evidence for the distinction made in this chapter.

Beginning of chapter

5.     Conclusion

The key terms in this chapter are lexical category (Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, Preposition and Pronoun) and grammatical category (Determiner, Quantifier, Auxiliary, Coordinator and Complementizer), or open as opposed to closed. All these categories are defined in semantic, morphological, and syntactic terms, i.e. according to meaning, word-form, and position in the sentence. An important concept for classifying determiners is specify (or point to) and one for classifying adjectives and adverbs is modify (or describe the quality of).


A.   Make three sentences      (a)      where an adjective modifies a noun,

                         (b)     where an adverb modifies an adjective,

          (c) where an adverb modifies another adverb and the two together modify a verb.

B.     Identify each word in the text below. Some words are problematic, e.g. last.

     At last, we had begun filming. Should I say `we'? I was living in the house and extremely curious about everything connected with the film. Fortunately, they let me hang around and even gave me a job. As an historian, I kept an eye on detail and did not allow the filmmakers to stray too far from the period of Louis Philippe. The project was to make an hour-long film about Houdin and it was decided to shoot the picture in Switzerland. This may have been a bad idea. It certainly mixed professional and domestic affairs.

     (adapted from World of Wonders, R. Davies, I, 2)

C.   To what categories do the nonsense words belong in Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky", given in section 4 above? Discuss in class why you chose those categories. (By the way, there are many Lewis Carroll websites where you can download parts of his work)

D.     Broca's aphasia results in a loss of grammatical categories, such as determiners and auxiliaries, but not the loss of lexical categories, such as nouns and verbs. It is sometimes called agrammatism. Wernicke's aphasia results in a loss of meaning, but not in a loss of grammatical categories. Which sentence exemplifies which aphasia?

     I. I could if I can help these like this you know ... to make it.

     II. Well ... front ... soldiers ... campaign ... soldiers ... to shoot ... well ... head ... wound ... and hospital ... and so ...

     (from O'Grady et al. 1987)

E.     Discuss the syntactic use (i.e. which category is modified) of adjectives and adverbs in the following excerpts:

(a)  the first line of Roethke's Villanelle `I wake to sleep and take my waking slow', of which only the first 6 lines are given.

     The Waking

     I wake to sleep and take my waking slow.

     I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.

     I learn by going where I have to go.


     We think by feeling. What is there to know?

     I hear my being dance from ear to ear.

     I wake to sleep and take my waking slow.


(b)     parts of D. H. Lawrence's Snake


     A snake came to my water-trough

     On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,

     To drink there.


     In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree

     I came down the steps with my pitcher

     And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me.


     And voices in me said, If you were a man

     You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.


     But must I confess how I liked him,

     How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough

     And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,

     Into the burning bowels of this earth?


F.   Most people, if asked to provide or repeat the first line of Dylan Thomas' poem below, will say `Do not go gently . . .' with gently as an adverb modifying the verb. Grammatically speaking, having an adverb modify go is not incorrect. Dylan Thomas' version, however, is very different. By using the adjective form gentle, another interpretation becomes available, one where the person addressed in the poem should not `become gentle'. Now, because of its form, gentle modifies the implied `you'. The effect is very different:

     Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,


     Do not go gentle into that good night,

     Old rage should burn and rave at close of day;

     Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


     Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

     Because their words had forked no lightning they

     Do not go gentle into that good night.


     Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

     Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

     Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


     Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

     And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

     Do not go gentle into that good night.


G.   Take 5 grammatical categories and look them up in a dictionary. How do dictionaries deal with them?


Beginning of chapter

Keys to the Exercises

A.   a.     The nice computer crashed.

          That was not pleasant.

          He is this very abrasive politician.

     b.     He is this very abrasive lawyer.

          That was extraordinarily irritating.

          The extremely unpleasant judge was impeached.

     c.     I can see very well from here.

          He drove extremely quickly.

          The officer said that she drove too fast.

B.   In the key, I have identified every word, but the difference between verb (V) and auxiliary (AUX) will only become clear in chapter 6. I have also identified Coord(inators) and D(eterminers). Note that I classify pronouns as N, but you could classify them as pronoun (or Pron) if you want to:

     At (P) last (Adj), we (N) had (AUX) begun (V) filming (V). Should (AUX) I (N) say (V) `we' (N)? I (N) was (AUX) living (V) in (P) the (D) house (N) and (Coord) extremely (Adv) curious (Adj) about (P) everything (N) connected (V) with (P) the (D) film (N). Fortunately (Adv), they (N) let (V) me (N) hang (V) around (Adv) and (Coord) even (Adv) gave (V) me (N) a (D) job (N). As (P) an (D) historian (N), I (N) kept (V) an (D) eye (N) on (P) detail (N) and (Coord) did (AUX) not (Adv) allow (V) the (D) filmmakers (N) to (AUX, see chapter 6) stray (V) too (Adv) far (Adv) from (P) the (D) period (N) of (P) Louis (N) Philippe (N). The (D) project (N) was (V) to (AUX) make (V) an (D) hour-long (Adj) film (N) about (P) Houdin (N) and (Coord) it (N) was (AUX) decided (V) to (AUX) shoot (V) the (D) picture (N) in (P) Switzerland (N). This (N) may (AUX) have (AUX) been (V) a (D) bad (Adj) idea (N). It (N) certainly (Adv) mixed (V) professional (Adj) and (Coord) domestic (Adj) affairs (N).

C.     'Twas brillig (Adj), and the slithy (Adj) toves (N)

     Did gyre (V) and gimble (V) in the wabe (N):

     All mimsy (Adj) were the borogoves (N)

     And the mome (Adj/N ?) raths (N) outgrabe (V).


     "Beware the Jabberwock (N), my son!

     The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

     Beware the Jubjub (N) bird and shun

     The frumious (Adj) Bandersnatch!"


     He took his vorpal (Adj) sword in hand:

     Longtime the manxome (Adj) foe he sought -

     So rested he by the Tumtum (N) tree

     And stood a while in thought.  (...)


D.   I is Wernicke; II is Broca.

E.     Roethke's `I wake to sleep and take my waking slow' is puzzling since if the poet really wanted to sleep, he should not want to be slow in falling asleep. There is a symmetry in the two sentences in that both start with similar sounding verbs (wake and take) and the first verb is repeated (waking). This focusses our attention on the waking and yet the author purports to be interested in sleeping. As to the use of adjectives, only one is used (slow) and, on first reading, we might think this is incorrect and that it has to be an adverb (slowly). It is not incorrect and, moreover, using the adjective rather than the adverb focusses our attention on waking rather than on the verb take.

     Lawrence's Snake is about reflection and lack of action. It describes a still, beautiful scene, which is emphasized by the use of adjectives such as hot (l. 2) and deep, strange-scented, great, and dark (l. 4). There is also a conflict between the peace of the moment (and nature) and the voices (of education, etc.). The conflict is emphasized by the use of the adjectives peaceful, pacified, thankless as opposed to burning. It is the snake that is seen as peaceful, hence, depart peaceful and not depart peacefully.

Special Topic: Adverb and Adjective

The rule stated in (12) above is often ignored by native speakers. In its simple form, it reads: an adjective modifies a noun; an adverb modifies a verb, adjective or adverb. The reason that the rule is not always followed is that the language is changing. For instance, real is a degree adverb, and becoming more like other degree adverbs such as too, so, very that lack the -ly ending. In (13) to (18) above, examples of the `correct' use of adjectives and adverbs are given. Some additional ones are listed here in (43) to (47), where the adjective modifies a noun:

43.     Lawrence Durrell, Sebastian, p. 12

     She waited impassive.

44.  I made it in safe.

45.  I list them separate.

46.  He tested positive.

47.  The Mesa Tribune, 29 August 1996, A1:

     `Color them unusual'.

48.  The Mesa Tribune, 15 February 1999, A1:

     911 system stretched thin.

Explain what the adjectives in (43) to (47) modify. In these sentences, it is possible to add a -ly and make the adjective into an adverb. Then, the meaning changes since now the adverb modifies the verb. Can you do that?

     Examples of `incorrect use' are listed in (49) to (52). Explain why they are prescriptively incorrect:

49.     Judge in Texas (quoted in the NYT, 30 August 1995, A9):

     `because if she doesn't do good in school, then ...'.

50.  In formal speech:

     You did that real good.

51.  It looks beautifully.

52.  Does the clutch feel any differently? (The Tappet Brothers on `Car Talk')

These sentences illustrate three problems speakers encounter. Firstly, as mentioned, really is losing its ending when it is degree adverb, as in (50). As Swan (1980: 12) writes: "In informal conversational English (especially American English), real is often used instead of really before adjectives and adverbs". Note that nobody uses real in (53). Why might that be the case?

53.     Really, you shouldn't have done that.

Secondly, the adverb counterpart to the adjective good is not good, as in (49) and (50), or goodly, but well, as in (54), the rewritten version of (50). Well is also used as adjective, as in (55). It is no wonder speakers become confused! In (55), good can replace well. Please explain why:

54.  You did that really well.

55.  I am well, thank you.

Thirdly, speakers tend to overreact when they see an adjective next to a verb, and hypercorrect themselves. Hypercorrection occurs when speakers are so insecure that they think about the prescriptive rule too much and confuse themselves. They think that if an adjective is next to a verb, it has to modify the verb and be an adverb, as in (51) and (52). The poem by Dylan Thomas cited above shows, however, that this is not always necessary. Hypercorrection, as in (52), is different from a change such as in (50).

     As a last point, a comment on hopefully is necessary. Swan (1980: 296-7) mentions that there are two uses: one is full of hope, as in (56), and the other use, as in (57), "shows the speaker's attitude", and means it is hoped. According to Swan, "[s]ome people consider the second use `incorrect'. Both functions will be dealt with in chapter 5:

56.  She sat there hopefully for someone to stop by.

57.     Hopefully, hunger will cease to be a problem.

It is not clear why hopefully should have attracted all this attention. There are several other adverbs like it, e.g. those in (58) to (61):

58.     Naturally, I'd like you to stay with us for a few days.

59.     Amazingly, he arrived on time.

60.     Fortunately, the bus wasn't late.

61.     Funnily enough, I'd been thinking about that.

In (58) to (61), the adverbs all express the speaker's attitude and this is a legitimate use of an adverb; they do not all have to modify the VP. More on this in chapter 5.

Further Reading

For more on the distinction between adjectives and adverbs, see Swan (1980); on prepositions, see Quirk et al. (1985: 661 ff.); on coordinators and complementizers, see Quirk et al (1985: chapters 13 and 14); on categories in general, see Radford (1988: 56-64; 1995: 37-58). For differences among languages, see van Gelderen (1993), and on the view that grammatical categories also head phrases, see Chomsky (1986). This is now the accepted position in syntax but is not followed in this book since it would be too different from traditional grammatical structures.

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