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Syntactic functions and patterns of combinability


§ 242. Adverbs may perform different functions, modifying different types of words, phrases, sentences. Some adverbs are restricted in their combinability whereas others may modify different words, for instance enough, which may be used in to work enough, not quickly enough, quick enough. The most typical function of the adverb is that of adverbial modifier.


The combinability and functions of the adverbs are as follows:


1. Adverbs may function as adverbial modifiers of manner, place, time, degree to a finite or non-finite form of the verb:

He spoke aloud; I quite forgot about it; he spoke well.


Some adverbs of time though synonymous, are used in different syntactical patterns. Thus, already is used in affirmative sentences, and yet - in interrogative and negative sentences:


They have already finished.

They haven’t finished yet.

Have they finished yet?

However, already may occur in interrogative and negative sentences when there is an element of surprise or the question is suggestive, that is the speaker expects an affirmative answer.


Have they finished already? (The speaker is surprised at their having already finished.)


In the same way still, meaning “continuously, up to this moment”, is used in affirmative sentences and any more in negative sentences. If any more is used in a question, it implies that the speaker expects a negative answer.


He still works at the library.

He does not work there any more.

Does he take music lessons any more? - No, he doesn’t.


2. Adverbs may function as adverbial modifiers to an adjective or another adverb. Usually the modifying adverb is an intensifier:

very, rather, awfully, so, terribly, extremely, most, utterly, unusually, delightfully, unbelievably,

amazingly, strikingly, highly, that, etc.


The same applies to composite adverbs, such as

kind of, sort of, a good bit of, a lot of, a hell of, a great deal of, etc.


She is terribly awkward; they are very happy: Meg is clever enough; you speak so slowly; they settled in a rather quiet street; the boy is unbelievably fat; she was strikingly handsome; we did it sort of proudly; quite definitely, too much, right there, a great deal too much.

Some adverbs - still, yet, far, much, any combine with comparative adjectives: much worse, not any better, still greater, etc.


He could not speak any plainer.

You could do it far more neatly.

She is much wittier than her friend.


Comparative adverbs are used in clauses of proportional agreement, that is, parallel clauses in which qualities or actions denoted in them increase or decrease at an equal rate. (See Syntax § 177)

The longer I think about it the lessI understand your reasons.


To express the idea that a quality or action decreases or increases at an even rate the comparative may be repeated, the two identical forms being connected by and:


He ran faster and faster.

3. There are some adverbs which may modify nouns or words of nominal character, functioning as attribute, as in:

the way ahead, the trip abroad, the journey home, his return home, the sentence above (below), my friend

here, the house opposite, the day before, etc.


A few adverbs can premodify nouns without losing their adverbial character:

the then president, in after years, the above sentence, the now generation.


Their combinability with prepositional phrases can be illustrated by the following:

right up to the ceiling.

Positional characteristics


§ 243. As adverbs modify words of different classes, they accordingly occupy different positions in the sentence. In comparison with other words, adverbs may be considered as the most movable words. However, adverbs are not identical in their ability to be moved to another position in the structure. Thus, adverbs of manner and degree are very closely attached to the word they modify and cannot be moved away from it. He sings well – is the only possible arrangement of the three words, unless the change of position is caused by inversion and a general shift of the communicative focus: Only well does he sing (он поет только хорошо). If such an adverb is put in other positions this may result in a change of meaning in which case it is no longer an adverb (it has already been mentioned that adverbs are often defined by position rather than form): well, he sings when nobody is in.

If the predicate is an analytical form adverbs of frequency and indefinite time are usually placed between its parts:


Have you ever seen him?

You are always laughing at me.

Adverbs of degree usually premodify adjectives or verbs:

awfully painful, terribly unjust, really pretty, so nice, to thoroughly understand, etc.


The most mobile are adverbs of time and place, which can occupy several positions without any change in their meaning, as in:

Usually he sings well.

He usually sings well.

He sings well usually.


The initial position of the adverb of manner always makes it emphatic.

Proudly he showed his diploma to his parents.

Carefully he signed his name.


In these sentences, despite the detachment of the adverbial modifier, its connection with the verb is evident (showed proudly, signed carefully).


Care should be taken not to confuse adverbs of manner and modal words, which may have the same word-form and occur in the same position. The only guide in these cases is punctuation and the relation between the words:

Naturally I wanted him to answer - modal word.

I wanted him to answer naturally - adverb.

They wanted to live naturally - adverb.

They wanted to live, naturally - modal word.



§ 244. Modal words express the speaker’'s attitude to what his utterance denotes. The speaker’s judgement may be of different kinds, that is, the speaker may express various modal meanings.

Modal words are an invariable part of speech. They may refer to a word, a phrase, a clause, or a sentence. Their syntactical function is that of a parenthesis, they may also be a sentence in themselves, in which case they are used to answer a general question:


Will you help me? Certainly.

Precisely this.

Except this man, of course.


Semantically modal words fall into three groups, denoting:

1. Certainty/doubt (certainly, of course, indeed, surely, decidedly, really, definitely, naturally, no doubt,


Certainly, it was astonishing that she should be preoccupied with her schemes for the welfare of


Of course, it would have been different if they had married.

In answers the meaning of these words is weakened.

2. Supposition (perhaps, maybe, probably, obviously, possibly, evidently, apparently, etc.).


Manson’s nature was extraordinarily intense. Probably he derived this from his mother.

You have come quickly to a resolution. But perhaps you have been considering this question for a long


Obviously you didn’t read it.

3. Estimate proper (good/bad) – (luckily, fortunately, happily, unfortunately, unluckily, etc.).

Fortunately there were few people at the morning surgery.

Unhappily a terrible storm broke out before the travellers had reached their destination.



§ 245. A preposition is a function word indicating a relation between two notional words. Its semantic significance becomes evident when different prepositions are used with one and the same word, as in:


to go to the park, to go across the park, to go round the park, to go out of the park, to go through the

park, etc.


A preposition may altogether change the meaning of the verb:

he shot the officer (he aimed at him and hit him),

he shot at the officer (he aimed at him but probably missed).


Although the tradition of differentiating prepositions from other word classes (conjunctions, and in some cases adverbs) is well established, it is not always easy to draw the border-line; nearly all one-word prepositions can also function as adverbs or as conjunctions, their status being determined only syntactically. A few words - after, before, since, for (with the change of meaning), behind - may function not only as adverbs, adverbial postpositions, or conjunctions, but also as prepositions. Compare the following groups of sentences:


They sailed up (postposition).

They sailed up the river (preposition).

Everybody was up at the sound of the bell (adverb).

The milk boiled over (postposition).

He presided over the meeting (preposition).

I can’t tolerate such men as him (preposition).

As he was passing the door he turned back (conjunction).

No one saw him but me (preposition).

But no one saw him (conjunction).

He is stronger than me (preposition).

He is stronger than I am (conjunction).

Morphological composition

§ 246. Most of the common English prepositions are simple in structure:

out, in, for, on, about, but (в значении кроме, исключая), against.

Derived prepositions are formed from other words, mainly participles:

excepting, concerning, considering, following, including, during, depending, granted, past, except.


There are also many compound prepositions:

within, outside, upon, onto, throughout, alongside, wherewith, whereof, whereupon, herein, hereafter, withall.

Composite or phrasal prepositions include a word of another class and one or two prepositions, as in by virtue of, but for, because of, by means of, instead of, in lieu of, prior to, on account of, abreast of, thanks to, with reference to, opposite to, in front of, for the sake of, in view of, in spite of, in preference to, in unison with, for the sake of, except for, due to, in addition to, with regard to, on behalf of, in line with, at variance with.

A composite preposition is indivisible both syntactically and semantically, that is, no element of it can be varied, abbreviated, or extended according to the normal rules of syntax. Thus in the composite preposition for the sake of neither the definite article nor the preposition can be re­placed by words of similar meaning.

Semantic characteristics


§ 247. Semantically prepositions form a varied group of words. Most of them are polysemantic (in, to, for, at, from), their original meaning having become vague, others have retained their full meaning and are accordingly monosemantic (down, over, across, off, till, until, save, near, along, among, despite, during, etc.). This also applies to prepositions borrowed from Latin: versus, via, plus, minus.

Relations expressed by prepositions may be of various types:


1) agentive - the letter was sent by a friend of mine;


2) attributive - a drawing in crayon, the people in question (люди, о которых идет речь);


3) possessive and partial relations - one of my friends, the roof of the house, a glass of brandy, a decline in

waste, a rise in production;


4) relation indicating origin, material, or source - a girl from Brighton, made of gold:


5) objective relation – don’t be angry with me, I'II look into the matter, to work at a book, to speak on the

matter (about the matter, of the matter);


6) relation indicating to whom the action is directed - to show it to him, to give lessons to the children;


7) instrumental relation - to write with a pencil, to cut with a knife;


8) relation of subordination - to be secretary to a Minister;


9) relation defining the sphere or field of activity - the country depends on exports for its food; Tom is good

at football;


10) relation of involvement or association - to cooperate with some­body; coffee with cream, to compare this

with that, to get involved in a discussion;


11) respective relation - he is big for a youngster, I did not know I had a blackguard for a son;


12) relation of resemblance - he is like his father;


13) relation of dissociation and differentiation - to disburden oneself of one’s past; to be devoid of

something, to disentangle oneself from something; to know something from something, to deduce from



14) various adverbial relations:


a) of manner, means, style and language - with diligence, by telegram, in slang, in bad print, in a neat


in good style, in brief;


b) of purpose or aim - to send for the doctor, he did it for fun, the police were after the criminal;


c) temporal relations. These may be subdivided into those denoting precedence, sequence, duration, etc. -

in good time, at 5 o’clock, before the dawn;


d) of cause or reason - I did it out of fear, through his negligence, I despise you for this;


e) spacial relation, including directional relation - past the gate, by the window, across the river, at the


f) concessive relation - in spite of the bad weather, despite our protests, for all his attempts, with all her



The relations enumerated above to a great degree depend on the meaning of the words connected by prepositions. Sometimes the relation indicated by a preposition is too abstract to be defined in words, as its use is often figurative or metaphorical, as in:

He broke away from them on some vague pretext.


The role of the preposition is difficult to define when it introduces predicatives, when its meaning is

‘in the capasity of’, ‘in the role of’, ‘having the quality of’.

As a friend he was admirable, but one cannot praise him as a husband.


His career as a lawyer was short.

We regard him as a fool.

She went to the ball with her aunt as chaperone.


When a preposition is used figuratively, the concept expressed by the preposition may be so blurred or weak that one preposition may be replaced by another without any essential alteration to the relation between the words. Thus the following words may be used with different prepositions without change of meaning:


aversion from, to

disgust against, at, towards

repugnance against, for, to

along, down, over the centuries


Words of the same root can be used with different prepositions:


to pride oneself on, to be proud of, pride in;

to confide in, confidence in, to be confident of.



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