The Beautiful Adverb

the adverbBy far the most useful and beautifully flexible part of speech just has to be the wonderfully versatile adverb. It can not only describe a verb and an adjective but even another adverb. How incredibly super cool is that? How can a part of speech do something to itself? Look at the complexity of adverb use in the following ridiculously simple sentence.

My wife eats quickly. When she is very hungry, she eats really quickly.

Did you spot the adverbs? No, try again.

My wife eats quickly. When she is very hungry, she eats really quickly.

Or, try this?

My wife eats so quickly. When she is really very hungry, she eats quite quickly.

Absolutely marvellous isn’t it?

What about taking an all to common little adverb that we use without thought, and move the little devil around a bit. Let’s see what happens.

I don’t drink whiskey often.
Often I don’t drink whiskey.
I don’t often drink whiskey.
I often don’t drink whiskey.

Well, how much whiskey do I drink then? And how often? I’m sure you’d love to know. To be perfectly frank with you, I don’t often drink whiskey as I habitually drink beer. Or I occasionally drink a glass of refreshingly cold white wine.

Let’s have some fun with Captain Kirk. Did he…?

Boldly go where no man had gone before.
Go boldly where no man had gone before.
Go where no man had gone before boldly.
Go where no man had gone boldly before.

I hardly had time to quietly contemplate this very special little conundrum, before I had suddenly realised that I was uselessly wasting my time on a point that was ridiculously simple. He went. Boldly. Yes, he did. He simply did. Or did he simply do it?

Apparently I have stupidly abused your precious time by uselessly wasting your recently acquired subscription. I apologise profusely. Or, maybe, I profusely apologise. Whatever. I am very sorry. But, I can’t be sorry very, can I? Strange huh?

2 thoughts on “The Beautiful Adverb”

  1. Veronika Walker

    It’s all in the way you use the adverb, colleague.

    Thank you for your homage to this little-used part of speech. It has has undergone quite an attack in recent years; too, too sad.

  2. I agree Derek, they can be very good for written precision, but problems come up with their overuse. Inexperienced writers may think it neat to write “She said softly”, instead of using a strong single verb like “She whispered” or “She murmured”. Knowing how to use adverbs for best effect can really extremely certainly be a minefield! ;-)

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