Syntagmatic and paradigmatic peculiarities of adverbs in English

Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine

Department of English Philology

Diploma paper

Syntagmatic and paradigmatic peculiarities of adverbs in English

Lviv - 2010



Chapter 1. The adverb in English theoretical grammar

1.1 Categorial meaning of the adverb

1.2 Formal characteristics of the adverb

1.3 Syntactic functions and positional characteristics of the adverb

Chapter 2. Paradigmatics of adverbs

2.1 Semantic classification of adverbs

2.2 Lexico-grammatical subdivision of adverbs

Chapter 3. Syntagmatic valency of adverbs and its actualization in speech

3.1 Syntactic valency and combinability patterns of adverbs

3.2 Semantic and syntactic properties of adverbs of degree

3.3 The use of adverbs of degree with gradable and non-gradable adjectives

3.4 Semantic preferences of amplifiers



List of References



The diploma paper sets out to explore paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations of adverbs in modern English. The work considers such branches of grammar as morphology and syntax and is concerned with the two levels of word relations.

A word as a part of the language system is considered on two levels:

1) the syntagmatic level;

2) the paradigmatic level.

On the paradigmatic level it is the relationship with other words in the vocabulary system. On the syntagmatic level the semantic structure of a word is analyzed in its linear relationships with neighbouring words.

The differentiation between paradigmatics and syntagmatics is based on recognition of the linguistic planes: 1 – the plane of language; 2 – the plane of speech. Language is a system of means of expression while speech should be understood as the manifestation of the system of language in the process of communication. Language planes are structured paradigmatically, speech planes – syntagmatically.

Paradigmatic relations are relations of contrast. They exist only in the potential and never in an instance. From the viewpoint of the text analyst, they express a contrast between the meaning (and so the form) that was chosen for use in the text and the one or more meanings (and so forms) that might have been chosen (but were not). In other words, paradigmatic relations exist only in the language that is used to produce a text-sentence and not in the sentence itself (23, 134).

Syntagmatic relations are based on the linear character of speech. They enable language to function as a means of communication. When they are brought into play, linguistic elements combine to form information-carrying utterances. They are therefore the functional relations of language (32, 60).

The present research is aimed at investigating the salient features of adverbs in English. The major research focus in the field of syntagmatics is on adverbs of degree as the most syntagmatically active class.

Most of the investigations in the field of morphology deal with other parts of speech, mainly verbs, nouns or adjectives. The adverb due to its ontological status and the categorical meaning defined as that of secondary property, has unjustly fallen out of research focus. The textbooks on theoretical grammar provide only scanty information about adverbs. However, the adverb is liable to present us with a whole bundle of problems. Firstly, there are a lot of borderline cases of transition between adverbs, on the one hand, and prepositions, particles and conjunctions, on the other. Though, a number of fairly plausible viewpoints on the issue have been expressed and the objective criteria have been suggested, they do not yield clear results and, a fully convincing solution to the problem has not been found yet (4; 5; 8; 9). This calls for the need to consider these cases of grammatical homonymy at some length. Secondly, wrong use of adverbs and adverbial collocations appears to be one of the major errors notoriously common with the students. This determines the topicality of the research, its theoretical and practical value.

The object of investigation is the adverb, including simple, derived, compound and composite. The subject of research is the paradigmatic correlation and syntagmatic peculiarities of adverbs, their combinability patterns. Such methods of investigation, as structural-semantic, distributional and the elements of the quantitative analysis are used in this paper.

The tasks of the diploma paper are:

- to determine the categorial meaning of the adverb and its formal characteristics;

- to carry out the analysis of syntactic functions of the adverb;

- to analyze the main classes of adverbs;

- to compare paradigmatically relevant classifications of the adverb;

- to explore syntactic valency and combinability patterns of adverbs;

- to examine the use of adverbs of degree and to determine their semantic preferences.

According to the spheres of concern the work falls into an Introduction, three chapters, conclusions and the list of references which together with the appendix comprises __ pages. Chapter 1 deals with the analysis of the adverb in accord with the 3-criteria principle of the lexico-grammatical word classification. Chapter 2 is concerned with the paradigmatic relations of adverbs, providing the semantic and lexico-grammatical classifications of the adverb. In Chapter 3 semantic and syntactic valencies of adverbs and their realization in speech are described. Most of the examples presented in this diploma paper are taken form modern English dictionaries.

Chapter 1. The adverb in English theoretical grammar

1.1 Categorial meaning of the adverb

In accord with the 3-criteria principle of the lexico-grammatical word classification (semantic, formal and functional) (35), parts of speech are discriminated on the basis of:

1) common categorial meaning;

2) common paradigm (morphological form and specific forms of derivation);

3) common syntactic function.

The categorical meaning of the adverb is secondary property which implies qualitative, quantitative, or circumstantial characteristics of actions, states, qualities.

The adverb is usually defined as a word expressing either property of an action, or property of another property, or circumstances in which an action occurs (22, 146). From this definition it is difficult to define adverbs as a class, because they comprise a most heterogeneous group of words, and there is considerable overlap between the class and other word classes. They have many kinds of form, meaning and function.

Alongside such undoubtful adverbs as here, now, often, seldom, always, there are many others which also function as words of other classes. Such words which are different in their lexical meaning and also in their grammatical category (part of speech) but identical in their form are interparadigmatic homonyms (lexical-grammatical) (17, 118). Thus, adverbs like dead (dead tired), clear (to get clear away), clean (I've clean forgotten), slow, easy (he would say that slow and easy) coincide with corresponding adjectives (a dead body, clear waters, clean hands). Adverbs like past, above, in, up, down, about, since, before, over are homonymous with prepositions. There is also a special group of pronominal adverbs when, where, how, why used either as interrogative words or as connectives to introduce subordinate clauses (3, 87):

Where would you like to go? (an interrogative pronominal adverb)

We’ll go where you want. (a conjunctive pronominal adverb)

Some adverbs may be used rather like a verb, as in “Up. Jenkins! Down, Peter!”, where the first word is like an imperative (25, 92).

There are three adverbs connected with numerals: once, twice, and thrice (the latter being archaic). They denote measure or frequency:

She went there once a week (41).

I saw him twice last month (41).

Twice is also used in the structure twice as long, etc. (22, 92).

He is twice as tall as his brother (40).

She is twice as clever (40).

Beginning with three the idea of frequency or repetition is expressed by the phrases three times, four times (25, 92):

He went there four times.

He is four times as bigger.

She is ten times cleverer. (25, 92)

In many cases the border-line between adverbs and words of the other classes is defined syntactically:

I called out to him as he ran past (38). (adverb)

I called out to him as he ran past the house (38). (preposition)

We were locked in (41). (adverb)

We were locked in the warehouse (41). (preposition)

He did everything slowly but surely (38). (adverb)

Surely you know him (38). (modal word)

The definition of adverb presented above, though certainly informative and instructive, also fails to directly point out the relation between the adverb and the adjective as the primary qualifying part of speech.

In an attempt to overcome this drawback, M. Y. Blokh defines the adverb as a notional word expressing a non-substantive property, that is, a property of a non-substantive referent (13, 221). This formula immediately shows the actual correlation between the adverb and the adjective, since the adjective is a word expressing a substantive property.

Properties may be of a more particular, "organic" order and, a more general and detached, "inorganic" order (13, 221). Of the organic properties, the adverb denotes those characterising processes and other properties. Of the inorganic properties, the adverb denotes various circumstantial characteristics of processes or whole situations built around processes.

The above definition, approaching the adverb as a word of the secondary qualifying order, presents the entire class of adverbial words as the least self-dependent of all the four notional parts of speech. Indeed, the truly complete nominative value is inherent only in the noun, which is the name of substances (15). The verb comes next in its self-dependent nominative force, expressing processes as dynamic relations of substances, i.e. their dynamic relational properties in the broad sense. After that follow qualifying parts of speech — first the adjective denoting qualifications of substances, and then the adverb denoting qualifications of non-substantive phenomena which find themselves within the range of notional signification.

The adverb is characterised by its own, specific nominative value, providing for its inalienable status in the system of the parts of speech. Hence, the complaints of some linguists that the adverb is not rigorously defined and in fact presents something like a "dump" for those words which have been rejected by other parts of speech can hardly be taken as fully justified (13, 221). On the other hand, since the adverb does denote qualifications of the second order, not of the first one like the adjective, it includes a great number of semantically weakened words which are in fact intermediate between notional and functional lexemes by their status and often display features of pronominal nature.

1.2 Formal characteristics of the adverb

In terms of the formal criterion the adverb is characterized by the following features (13, 39):

1) the forms of the degrees of comparison for qualitative adverbs;

2) the specific suffixal forms of derivation.

The only pattern of morphological change for adverbs is the same as for adjectives, the degrees of comparison (25, 94). With regard to the category of the degrees of comparison adverbs (like adjectives) fall into comparables and non-comparables. The number of non-comparables is much greater among adverbs than among adjectives. Only adverbs of manner and certain adverbs of time and place can form degrees of comparison. The three grades are called positive, comparative, and superlative degrees.

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

hard — harder — hardest

soon — sooner — soonest

early — earlier — earliest

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 – quicker – quickest

loudly – louder – loudest

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

beautifully — more beautifully — most beautifully

cleverly — more cleverly — most cleverly

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 — better — best

badly — worse — worst

much — more — most

little — less — least

All the problems connected with the adjectival degrees of comparison retain their force for the adverbial degrees of comparison. Some grammarians do not admit forms like more quickly, most quickly to be analytical degrees of comparison (9). They distinguish only two types of degrees of comparison in adverbs:

· the suffix type (quickly – quicker – quickest)

· the suppletive type (well — better — best)

Adverbs vary in their structure. In accord with their word-building structure adverbs may be simple, derived, compound and composite (25).

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.

Derived adverbs may be classified in several groups (30, 164). The two largest groups are those formed from adjectives and participles by adding the suffix -ly, e. g.: hopefully, physically, strangely, falsely, occasionally, lately, immediately, constantly, purely, slowly, charmingly, etc.

There has been a marked discrepancy of opinion concerning deadjectival adverbs in terms of two mutually exclusive types of morphological derivation – inflection and word-formation (5). Two views have been put forward, according to which adverbs are treated as either the inflectional paradigmatic form of a parent adjective or its derivative (6). The former view can be refuted if we proceed from the notion of symmetry/asymmetry of the semantic structures. The structures are considered symmetric if they are characterized by both quantitative and qualitative convergence of their sense components; conversely, the parent and the resultant semantic structures are considered asymmetric if they diverge either in the number or in the character of the meanings conveyed (5).

According to Garipova N.D., adjectival and adverbial forms are asymmetric; the process of deriving adverbs from adjectives involves the semantic shift that yields two possibilities: the adverb may develop new meanings, or, more often, the semantic structure of the motivated adverb turns out to be more simplified and narrower in comparison with that of the motivating adjective (2). For example, the adverb roughly retains only 3 meanings out of 17, inherent in the semantic structure of the adjective rough. All this leads to conclude that adverbs cannot be regarded as inflectional forms of adjectives.

The third group consists of those that are formed by means of the derivational prefix -a (phonemically (э)) to nouns, adjectives or verbs. Of about sixty of them in more or less common use nearly half are formed from nouns: aboard, aside, away, ahead, apart, across 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) (30, 164).

The fourth group of derived adverbs originally very small, but in present-day English exhibiting signs 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 recognised in writing by the use of the hyphen.

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.

The less common suffixes are the following:





twofold, manifold


innermost, outermost

longways, sideways