Position of adverbs Part II

July 2, 2010pdf

Adverbs should be placed next to the word or words they modify.

  • He had almost got to the top when the rope broke. (Here the adverb almost modifies the verb got.)

As a general rule, the adverb only should come immediately before the word it modifies.

  • I solved only two problems.
  • Only John managed to solve the problem.
  • Praise them only when the deserve it.

In spoken English, only is usually placed before the verb. The intended meaning is conveyed by stressing the word which only modifies.

  • He only solved two problems. (The word two is stressed.)

Two negatives destroy each other. Hence they should not be placed in the same sentence unless our intention is to make an affirmation.

  • I haven’t got any money. (NOT I haven’t got no money.)
  • I could not find him anywhere. (NOT I could not find him nowhere.)
  • Hardly anyone believes in such ghost stories these days. (NOT Hardly no one believes in such ghost stories these days.)

Adjectives can’t be used to modify verbs.

  • He ate the cake greedily. (NOT He ate the cake greedy.)
  • You will pay dearly (not dear) for this.

Greedy and dear are adjectives. They can’t be used to modify the verbs ate and pay.

Else should be followed by but, not than.

  • It is nothing else but prejudice.
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