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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 anddegree 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 formadverbs 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 areadverbs of time andplace, 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 theadverb 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 goto the park, to goacross the park, to goround the park, to go out of the park, to gothrough 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).

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