Classification of adverbs

Classification of adverbs according to their structure

Adverbs comprise a most heterogeneous group of words. They have many kinds of form and meaning. That’s why there are many classifications of adverbs. There are several classifications of adverbs made by different scholars. And they differ from each other, representing various points of view conserning the way of classification. Adverbs vary in their structure.

Accordingly, Professor V. L. Kaushanska classified adverbs in accord with their word-building structure adverbs into simple and derived. [9, p. 143]

Simple adverbs are rather few, and nearly all of them dis­play functional semantics, mostly of pronominal character: here, there, now, then, so, quite, why, how, where, when.

In derived adverbs the most common suffix is -ly, by means of which new adverbs are coined from adjectives and participles: occasionally, lately, immediately, constantly, purely, slowly, charmingly.

The less common suffixes are the following:

  • wise clockwise, crabwise, corkscrew -wise, education-wise
  • ward(s) onward(s), backward(s), homeward(s), eastward(s)
  • fold twofold, manifold
  • like warlike
  • most innermost, outermost
  • way(s) longways, sideways

Of these suffixes the first two are more productive than the rest.

Compound adverbs are formed of two stems: sometimes, somewhere, everywhere, downstairs, etc.

Composite phrasal adverbs consist of two or more word-forms, as a great deal, a little bit, far enough, now and then, from time to time, sort of, kind of, a hell of, a lot of, a great deal of.

As adverbs make up a rather complicated group of words varying widely

in form and distribution there is one more classification of adverbs according to their structure.

Considered in their morphemic structure, Rayevskaya classified adverbs

in eight groups. [10, p. 115]

1—2. The two largest groups are those formed from derived and base adjectives by adding the suffix -ly, e. g.: hopefully, physically, strangely, falsely, etc.

  1. The third group consists of those that are formed by means of the derivational prefix -a (phonemically [ə]) to nouns, adjectives or verbs. Of about sixty of them in more or less common use nearly half are form­ed from nouns: e.g. aboard, aside, away, etc.

The rest are about equally divided among those formed from verbs, e. g.: amiss, astir; from adjectives — anew, abroad.

In traditional grammars such words are generally classed as both adjectives and adverbs and they are so listed in most dictionaries, which seems hardly justified since from the structural point of view none of them can fit the basic adjective position between determiner and noun. (We cannot say the aloud voice or the adrift boat) .

  1. The fourth size of rapid growth includes those formed by adding the derivational suffix -wise to nouns.

A few adverbs of this type are well-established words like clockwise, otherwise, likewise; others are recent coinages or nonce words like crabwise and actor-wise. In American English the suffix -wise is most active and can be more freely attached to many nouns to create adverbs like person­nel-wise. Such forms are recognized in writing by the use of the hyphen.

  1. Then comes a smaller group of adverbs formed by the addition of the derivational suffix -ward(s) to a limited group of nouns; home-ward(s), forward(s), backward(s). Most adverbs of this group have! two forms, one with the final s and one without, variously distributed. The forms without s are homonymous with adjectives: the backward child, he looked backward.
  2. Next we come to a group of adverbs formed by combining the pro­nouns some, any, every and no with a limited number of nouns or pronominal adverbs, such as: someplace, anyway, everywhere, nowhere, etc. , There are fewer than twenty of these in common use.
  3. Another relatively small group of adverbs includes those that are formally identical with prepositions: about, around, before, down, in, inside, over, on, etc.
  4. The last group of adverbs is the miscellaneous class of those that have no formal signals at all to distinguish them in isolation; we know them as adverbs because of their positions in utterances, in which the other parts of speech are clearly identifiable. Many adverbs in this group are fairly frequent in occurrence: always, now, then, here, there, often, seldom, still, even. Others in this group are words which may also appear as other parts of speech, such as: downstairs, home, late, little, fast, slow, early, far, near.

A word should be said about adverb-qualifiers. Among adverbs there are some which have degrees of comparison and others which have not.

Adverbs in the comparative degree, whether formed by adding the suffix -er or analytically by adding more and most may take the same qualifiers that comparative adjectives do, e. g.: still more difficult, a little louder.

The adverbial meaning can be intensified by adding right, far, by far, e. g.: far ahead, right ahead, far better, better by far, far down, far below, etc.

Intensity of adverbial meaning may also be produced by the use of full and well as intensifies. The latter are survivals of Old English and less frequent in present-day use, e. g: He was well out of sight; well ahead, etc.

A special point of linguistic interest is presented by the development of “merged” or “separable” adverbs. The term “merged” is meant here to bring out the fact that such separable compounds are lexically and gram­matically indivisible and form a single idea.

Considered in their structure, such “separable” compounds may be classified as follows:

a) preposition + noun: at hand, at home, by heart, on horseback,

[on foot (= by foot arch.), in turn, to date;

b) noun + preposition + noun: arm in arm, day by day, day after day, day to day, face to face, word for word, year by year;

c) preposition + substantivized adjective: at last, at first, at large, in large, in full, in quiet, in short, in vain, of late, of old;

d) preposition + verbal noun made through conversion: at a guess, at a run, in a rush, on the move, on the run;

e) preposition + numeral: at first, at once, at one, by twos;

f) coordinate adverbs: by and by, on and off (== off and on), on and on;

g) pronoun + adjective (or participle): all right, all told, 0. K- (all


h) preposition + pronoun: after all, in all, at all.

In point of fact most adverbs of that kind may be reasonably referred to as grammatical idioms. This can be seen, for instance, in the unusual absence of the article before their noun components and specialized use of the noun in its singular form only: on foot (but not on the foot, or on feet which may occur in tree prepositional word-groups), in fact (but not in the fact), at first (but not at the first), etc.

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