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Morphological characteristics


§ 240. The only pattern of morphological change for adverbs is the same as for adjectives, the degrees of comparison. The three grades are calledpositive, comparative, andsuperlative degrees.

Adverbs that are identical in form with adjectives take inflections following the same spelling and phonetic rules as for adjectives:


early late hard slow - earlier - later - harder - slower - earliest - latest - hardest - slowest


Several adverbs ending in-ly (quickly, loudly) form comparatives according to the same pattern, dropping their adverb-forming suffix. These adverbs acquired the form in-ly only recently and retained the older forms of the comparative and superlative:


quickly loudly - quicker - louder - quickest - loudest


However most disyllabic adverbs in-ly and all polysyllabic ones form the comparative and superlative analytically, by means ofmore andmost:


wisely softly deeply - more wisely - more softly - more deeply - most wisely - most softly - most deeply


The adverb often occurs with both types of comparison:


often oftener more often

As with adjectives, there is a small group of adverbs with comparatives and superlatives formed from different stems(suppletive forms). These comparatives and superlatives are identical with those for the corresponding adjectives and can be differentiated from the latter only syntactically.


well badly little much   far - better - worse - less - more further farther - best - worst - least - most - furthest - farthest


Which do you likebest?

This isleast painful for you.


Either farther (farthest) or further (furthest) are used when speaking of places, directions, or distance:

He is too tired to walk any farther (further).


But only further (furthest) is used with the meaning more, later:


Don’t try my patience any further.


Most of the adverbs, however, stand outside the degrees of comparison:


pronominal adverbs denoting place and time

(here, somewhere, there, sometimes, when),


denoting manner

(somehow, thus), and


adverbs of manner denoting gradation

(minimally, optimally, proximally - ближе к центру).

Semantic characteristics


§ 241. According to their meaning adverbs fall into many groups. Here are the main ones:

Adverbs of place: outside, there, in front, etc.

Adverbs of time include those denoting duration (long, continually), interval (all day), timing (yesterday, today, recently, lately, immediately, once, at once, now), frequency (often, now and then, occasionally). Several of them denote an indefinite time - soon, yet, always, already, never, ever.

Adverbs of manner: well, carefully, intentionally, silently, clearly, etc.

Adverbs of degree: thoroughly, very, much, completely, quite, rather, a lot, a little, a great deal, badly, greatly, hardly, barely, scarcely, narrowly, just, almost, mostly, enormously, largely, tremendously, keenly, somewhat, too, so, most, all but.

Among these some are synonymous (much, very), but their combinability is different. Thus much is used to modify verbs, nouns, statives and adjectives, and very is used with adjectives and adverbs in the positive and superlative degrees, whereas with comparatives only much is used:


to travel much to be much improved much better much slower very much in love very much alive very much alike very much afraid very nice very glad very slow very quickly


With participles, however, both much and very may be used, often they go together:

much admired, very surprised, very much amused.


Among adverbs of degree there are many the meaning of which has become weakened and which are used as intensifiers, adding emotional colouring to the content of what is said. This group of adverbs is very difficult to define because adverbs of other semantic groups can occasionally function as intensifiers:

awfully painful, very quiet, rather calm, most expensive, terribly unjust, faintly uneasy, really pretty, positively wonderful, extremely beautiful, too frightful, so nice, etc.



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